Claire S. H. Lim, James Snyder, 13 July 2021

There are many ways to select and retain public officials in representative democracies. This column discusses the literature on selection and retention procedures for low-information public offices. The authors first overview the historical origins of the variation. Then, they discuss conceptual frameworks used to assess the functioning of direct elections and present empirical regularities.  Finally, the authors suggest avenues for future research aided by digitisation and improved textual analysis of media coverage and government data.

Hans Gersbach, 27 February 2016

Current office-holders often seem to be re-elected quite easily, irrespective of their performance. This ‘incumbency advantage’ make it harder for first-time candidates and undermines democratic competition. This column proposes a new rule for re-election – the score-replication rule. In its simplest form, such a rule would require incumbents to obtain a percentage of votes at least as high as their highest historical election performance. This would restrain the negative incumbency advantage and potentially reduce policy polarisation.

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