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Same players, different game: how better rules make better politics


In this essay, I summarize a whole area of inquiry associated with constitutional political economy. I first try to outline the elements of political structure, the political rules that clearly influence the outcomes of the process. I look, briefly, at a range of specific structures that, taken together, will shape the constitution of any organized democratic polity. This constitution will, in its turn, influence the pattern of collective outcomes that may be observed. I argue that the disparate success of differing political communities in achieving objectives that seem to be commonly shared may be primarily due to the mix of elements in the basic structure of rules, and not to the differences as among the political players.

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Correspondence to James M. Buchanan.

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Buchanan, J.M. Same players, different game: how better rules make better politics. Const Polit Econ 19, 171–179 (2008).

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  • Rules of the game
  • Constitutional choice

JEL Classification

  • D70
  • H00