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Diritti di voto e redistribuzione: implicazioni per le democrazie

Voting Rights and Redistribution: Implications for Liberal, Democratic Governments

Anno XXV, n. 109, aprile-giugno 1990
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

Once voting rights are granted, voters have the right to redistribute, subject to some limitations. A vast literature has developed about the role of the state and the basis for taxation and redistribution. The first section of the paper discusses a small part of this vast literature – notably, the theses of J. M. Buchanan, J. Rawls and F. A. von Hayek. Then the author presents a positive explanation of the relation between voting rights and redistribution (in terms of a model of political economy, i.e. a model which includes a voting rule, and does not require a social welfare function); he discusses some of the reasons why we observe institutional arrangements that have produced redistribution and why he believes these arrangements will remain. Finally, he restates some of the main conclusions about the future of Liberal, democratic societies. Once a voting rule is selected, the balanced combination of output and redistribution is determined by the voters, given their relative and absolute incomes or productivities, and some structural features of the economy. All the following outcomes are departures from a Liberal economy, because they involve coercion. The voting rule differs from country to country, but history suggests that the evolution, if it is permitted to occur, moves toward some type of modified majority rule and near-universal suffrage. Some evidence is presented to suggest that, once established, democratic government has remained wherever the income of the median earner (voter) is not too distant from the mean. Wherever income distribution is most unbalanced, and the income of the median earner is a smaller fraction of the mean, countries have experienced greater difficulty in sustaining democratic government.