, Volume 36, Issue 3-4, pp 519-546
Date: 21 Dec 2010

Secondary issues and party politics: an application to environmental policy

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Abstract

This article develops a political economy model to assess the interplay between party formation and an environmental policy dimension viewed as secondary to the redistributive dimension. We define being a secondary issue in terms of the intensity of preferences over this issue rather than in terms of the proportion of voters who care for the environment. Equilibrium policies are the outcome of an electoral competition game between endogenous parties. We obtain the following results: (i) The Pigouvian tax never emerges in an equilibrium; (ii) The equilibrium environmental tax is larger when there is a minority of green voters; (iii) Stable green parties exist only if there is a minority of green voters and income polarization is large enough relative to the saliency of the environmental issue. We also study the redistributive policies advocated by green parties.