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Strategic Consensus and Heterogeneous Voters when Voter Turnout Is Uncertain

Toke S. Aidt and Jayasri Dutta
PFM, Vol. 9 No. 2, (2009)

This paper argues that uncertain or random voter turnout plays a key role in mediating conflicts of interest between voters and politicians on the one hand and heterogeneous groups of voters on the other. Random voter turnout creates an incentive for politicians to seek consensus because it is unclear ex ante who will hold the majority among those who turn out to vote. We argue that this leads to efficient provision of public goods if preference heterogeneity is not too large, and that it protects (large) minority groups against the tyranny of the majority. We also argue that compulsory voting may not be desirable because it reduces randomness in turnouts.

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