We investigate the susceptibility of democracies to demagogues, studying tensions between representatives who guard voters’long-run interests and demagogues who cater to voters’ short-run desires. Parties propose consumption and investment. Voters base choices on current-period consumption and valence shocks. Younger/poorer economies and economically disadvantaged voters are attracted to the demagogue’s disinvestment policies, forcing farsighted representatives to mimic them. This electoral competition can destroy democracy: if capital falls below a critical level, a death spiral ensues with capital stocks falling thereafter. We identify when economic development mitigates this risk and characterize how the death-spiral risk declines as capital grows large.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics