Presidency University Distinguished Fellow

Archishman Chakraborty, Mel Harris Chair in Insurance and Risk, Professor of Finance, Yeshiva University, New York will speak on Expert Captured Democracies

Abstract: How does democracy perform as an institution when an ideologically biased elite try to influence the voting behavior of the electorate? The elite have valuable information on some dimension of interest to voters and try to influence the election by issuing character or platform endorsements. Voters correctly discount for the ideological content of elite endorsements. However office-seeking candidates have incentives either to pander to the elite in return for favorable endorsements, or to engage in populism that jeopardizes elite credibility. Electoral competition may display polarization, distorted platform choices and inefficient information transmission. Even so, indirect democracy as an institution is typically valuable for voters. But a majority of voters may be better off if the elite are silenced. Things improve when, in addition to endorsements, the elite also provide policy advice. Indirect democracy then acts as a commitment device that allows voters to obtain precise advice from the elite. In such cases, indirect democracy may perform even better than direct democracy.

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