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The good, the bad and the populist : a model of political agency with emotional voters

Jennings, Colin (2011) The good, the bad and the populist : a model of political agency with emotional voters. European Journal of Political Economy, 27 (4). pp. 611-624. ISSN 0176-2680

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Abstract

This paper extends the political agency approach to an environment in which voting is categorised into informed and instrumental, informed and ‘expressive’, and uninformed due to‘rational irrationality’. Politicians may be “good”, “bad”, or “populist”. Initially the existence of only good and populist politicians is assumed: the incentives for good politicians to pool with or separate from populists are investigated and the implications for voter welfare are explored. Then the consequences of the inclusion of bad politicians are considered. The paper makes three main contributions. First, I provide a rational choice analysis of populism as populism is commonly understood. Second, I locate a potential role for government as a persuasive provider of information regarding the quality of policy. Third, when bad politicians are added tothe analysis, it is shown that a little potential corruption can improve voter welfare.