Ethical Voting in Multicandidate Elections

Laurent Bouton, Benjamin G. Ogden

NBER Working Paper No. 23898
Issued in October 2017
NBER Program(s):Political Economy

We study the behavior of ethical voters in multicandidate elections. We consider two of the most-widely used electoral rules around the world: the plurality rule and the majority runoff rule. Our model delivers crisper predictions than those of the pivotal voter model. There are two types of equilibria: (i) the sincere voting equilibrium (in which voters vote for their most-preferred candidate), and (ii) Duverger's Law equilibria (in which two candidates attract all the votes). We prove that an equilibrium always exists, and that it is unique for a broad range of parameter values. Moreover, the sincere voting equilibrium never coexists with a Duverger's law equilibrium. We also identify the features of an election that favor sincere voting. Comparing plurality and majority runoff, we find that the incentives to vote sincerely are stronger under the latter. Our results are consistent with the findings of the empirical literature studying strategic voting under plurality and runoff rules.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23898

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