Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 1 > Issue 1

Federalism and Incentives for Success of Democracy

Roger B. Myerson, Department of Economics, University of Chicago, myerson@uchicago.edu
Suggested Citation
Roger B. Myerson (2006), "Federalism and Incentives for Success of Democracy", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 1: No. 1, pp 3-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00000002

Publication Date: 01 Jan 2006
© 2006 now Publishers
Democracy,  Federalism,  Formal modelling,  Comparative political economy


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In this article:
A Model of Successand Failure of a Unitary Democracy 
Federal Democracy with Nationaland Provincial Governments 
Decentralized Provisional Government in a Process of Transitionto Unitary Democracy 
Variations on the Basic Model 


Success and failure of democracy are interpreted as different equilibria of a dynamic political game with cost of changing leadership and incomplete information about politicians' virtue. Unitary democracy can be frustrated when voters do not replace corrupt leaders, because any new leader would probably also govern corruptly. However, federal democracy cannot be consistently frustrated at both national and provincial levels, because provincial leaders who govern responsibly could build reputations to become contenders for higher national office. Similarly, democracy cannot be consistently frustrated in a democratization process that begins with decentralized provincial democracy and only later introduces nationally elected leadership.