<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Assess the median voter theory
  • Explain the voting cycle
  • Analyze the interrelationship between markets and government

Most developed countries today have a democratic system of government: citizens express their opinions through votes and those votes affect the direction of the country. The advantage of democracy over other systems is that it allows everyone in a society an equal say and therefore may reduce the possibility of oppression of the masses by a small group of wealthy oligarchs. There is no such thing as a perfect system, and democracy, for all its popularity, is not without its problems, a few of which we will examine here.

Democracy is sometimes summed up (and oversimplified) in two words: “Majority rule.” When voters face three or more choices, however, then voting may not always be a useful way of determining what the majority prefers.

As one example, consider an election in a state where 60% of the population is liberal and 40% is conservative. If there are only two candidates, one from each side, and if liberals and conservatives vote in the same 60–40 proportions in which they are represented in the population, then the liberal will win. What if the election ends up including two liberal candidates and one conservative? It is possible that the liberal vote will split and victory will go to the minority party. In this case, the outcome does not reflect the majority’s preference.

Does the majority view prevail in the case of sugar quotas ? Clearly there are more sugar consumers in the United States than sugar producers, but the U.S. domestic sugar lobby (www.sugarcane.org) has successfully argued for protection against imports since 1789. By law, therefore, U.S. makers of cookies and candies must use 85% domestic sugar in their products. Meanwhile quotas on imported sugar restrict supply and keep the domestic price of sugar up—raising prices for companies that use sugar in the production of their goods and for consumers. The European Union allows sugar imports, and prices there are 40% lower than U.S. sugar prices. Sugar-producing countries in the Caribbean repeatedly protest the U.S. quotas at the World Trade Organization meetings, but each bite of cookie, at present, costs you more than if there were no sugar lobby. This case goes against the theory of the “median” voter in a democracy. The median voter theory    argues that politicians will try to match policies to what pleases the median voter preferences. If we think of political positions along a spectrum from left to right, the median voter is in the middle of the spectrum. This theory argues that actual policy will reflect “middle of the road.” In the case of sugar lobby politics, the minority , not the median, dominates policy.

Sometimes it is not even clear how to define what the majority opinion might be. Step aside from politics for a moment and think about a choice facing three families (the Ortegas, the Schmidts, and the Alexanders) who are planning to celebrate New Year’s Day together. They agree to vote on the menu, choosing from three entrees, and they agree that the majority vote wins. With three families, it seems reasonable that one choice of entree will get a 2–1 majority. What if, however, their vote ends up looking like [link] ?

Questions & Answers

what is the effect of inflation in GDP
ahmed Reply
why do inflation effect economic
Chelsea Reply
explain in detail what is economic what is scarcity what is alternate uses
Ejiro Reply
What is law of demand
economic as a science refers to study of human resource
Law of demand- With all the factors remaining same if price increases of a commodity, the quantity of demand of that commodity decreases and vice versa
Thanks dey sunita
What is law of supply
what are the factors that affect demand
Elly Reply
what are the factors that affect demand of a good
what are the factors that affect demand of a good
what are the factors that affect demand of a commodity
1. the price of the product 2. the price of other products 3. consumers income 4. expectation of future changes in price 5. taste and preference etc.
what course scarcity
Bashari Reply
Scarcity is the limited availability of a commodity, which may be in demand in the market or by the commons. Scarcity also includes an individual's lack of resources to buy commodities. The opposite of scarcity is abundance.
Reasons that explain why the division of labor increases an economy's level of production
Chukwuka Reply
Please I don't understand the meaning and the concept of economics as a science
Ophelia Reply
economics as a science refers to the study of human behavior. how they make decisions etc
economics is science because it uses scientific methods in analysing societal problems.. observation experimentation and conclusion inherently are used to analyse. however it is not pure science but social science because it studies human and it's environs
what's elasticity of demand
Isaac Reply
are u asking because you don't know or what
A measure of the responsiveness of a product demanded to a change in market price
the degree of responsiveness of a product demanded to a little change in the price
the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a commodity to the changes in the price if the commodity in question, changes in the price of other related commodities and changes in the income of consumer
what is international trade
Kwame Reply
international trade is a trade between foreign country
it is the exchange of goods and services between countries
it's the exchange of goods and services from one foreign country to another
how is demand run
Ogonna Reply
what s the causes of poverty for human being
Femi Reply
lack of knowledge and resources
it is lack of inclusive political and economic institutions in that country given a strong central government.
luck of economics
poverty is due to poor system of taxation
progressive system of taxation can reduce poverty
lack of knowledge
Isn't it poor system of taxation that causes poverty
How is a monopoly market different from an oligopoly one?
Antony Reply
Qn.5.a)explain four ways on how elasticity of demand determines the incidence of tax b)design five mechanisms that can be uxed to reduc the gvt expendture in develping countriex lik tz
l dont know can l have brief notes
What is anatomy and physiology
emeka Reply
Important of monopoly
Daniel Reply
Importance of monopoly
Ibrahim Reply

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?