Matthew Yglesias » Democracy’s Myopia Problem

Well at least the electorate is responsive. In the philippines except for the presidensy you can buy your way into any elected seat! And because the president cannot go for re-election and there really is no party system , we have a personality system of government, this means we are screwed!

On its own terms, though this can sometimes produce unfair outcomes (like Jimmy Carter getting booted for problems that were far beyond his capacity to control) I think swing voters’ habit of punishing incumbents for poor performance is an okay satisficing strategy. It’s part of the reason why democracy manages to work despite massive voter ignorance. The electorate may be composed of people who don’t understand the issues or where the candidates stand on them, but the people running the government have an incentive to try to implement policies that work out okay in order to avoid “throw the bums out” sentiment. The trouble is that Bartels’ study of American elections, at least, suggests massive myopia on the part of voters. Economic performance in an election year has a big impact on election outcomes, but economic performance in other years doesn’t get you anywhere. If that carries over to the UK (and, indeed, it seems to) that means that Labour won’t get any credit from voters for the fact that current problems were preceded by a long and impressive string of growth. And by the same token, voters don’t understand comparative issues — the fact that your country is doing better than most other countries amidst a global downturn won’t get you any credit.

Matthew Yglesias » Democracy’s Myopia Problem.