27 September 2015

Catalonia Votes, But Does Not Decide

The widely observed election to the Parliament of Catalonia last Sunday opens a new period of uncertainty. The coalition candidacy ‘Together for Yes’ (JxSi), formed by the incumbent government party Democratic Convergence (CDC) and the opposition Republican Left (ERC), conceived this election as a substitute for a plebiscite for independence that was not authorized by the Spanish government. JxSi has been the most voted candidacy, but with only 40% of popular votes
      It’s the most extreme party, the Candidacy for People’s Unity (CUP) that, in spite of its small minority support, can have the highest threat and negotiation power in the incoming Catalan Parliament. This is because the CUP is located at the “corner” of the two-dimensional space, as it is the most leftist and the most Catalan nationalist of all parties. From such a position it can challenge and bargain with both the nationalist JxSi and the leftist coalition Yes We Can (CSQEP). The first occasion will be the reelection of the incumbent president Artur Mas, of CDC. The votes of the CUP will be ruthlessly negotiated, as its abstention wouldn’t be sufficient if all the other parties voted against. The CUP may hint with a more leftist alternative candidate who could obtain the support of both the left wing of JxSi and of CSQEP. Similar challenges on other major issues will follow.
      A kind of second round will take place in December at the election of the Spanish Parliament. It is expected that, for the first time in Spain, a multiparty coalition government may be formed. This may create the opportunity for a grand bargain between Spain-wide parties and for the Spanish and the Catalan governments to try a new deal.

You can click on the Figure for larger size.

The horizontal axis represents left-right socioeconomic policy issues.
The vertical axis represents Spanish-Catalan nationalist issues.
The areas of the circles are proportional to each party’s votes.

Parties from top to bottom:
·     CUP: Candidacy of Popular Unity. Pro-independence, against EU. 8% of votes, 10 seats.
·     JpSi: Together for Yes. Coalition of CDC-Democratic Convergence (currently in Catalan government), ERC-Republican Left, and other groups. Pro-independence. 40% of votes, 62 seats.
·     CSQEP: Catalonia Yes We Can. Coalition of ICV-Initiative Greens, Pod-We Can, and other groups. Pro-referendum, divided regarding independence. 9% of votes, 11 seats.
·     PSC: Socialist Party. Pro-referendum, pro-federal Spain. 13% of votes, 16 seats.
·     C’s: Citizens. Pro-status quo. 18% of votes, 25 seats.
·     PP: People’s Party. Pro-status quo (currently in Spanish government). 8% of votes, 11 seats.

Total seats: 135.

Sources for the Figure: Author’s elaboration with data from the survey by Centre d’Estudis d’Opinió CEO, Baròmetre d’Opinió Política, 35, Barcelona, Generalitat de Catalunya, 2015.


Josep M Valles said...
"Catalonia: Any time left for a consensual way out?"
The Catalan people have delivered their verdict but, creating political space to translate that into meaningful action will prove difficult.
From Barcelona, for Centre on Constitutional Change, ESRC

Guillem Lopez-Casasnovas said...
Vinga, Josep Maria. Molt mes del que esperavem tots. Particularment tu. 
D acord, pero, amb la conclusio. 
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

Hector Schamis said...
Please, educate me. Doesn't Spain, or Catalonia for that matter, have a PR system? Or may be not and I am wrong, if less than 50 percent of the votes gave them more than 50 percent of the seats. Or that is the landscape of Parliament now, after partial renewal? I have not seen this explained very well. Perhaps my fault, for reading too fast.
Georgetown University

PR with unfair apportionment of seats among districts which produces (minor) disproportionality. 
Catalonia is the only autonomy of Spain without own electoral law --because they didn't approve the proposal from the Expert Commission that I chaired a few years ago (which required 2/3 majority in Parliament and got only 55%). They use some "provisional" rules approved for the first election in 1980, taken from the Spanish electoral system (which is even more disproportional).
There is strong suspicion that the leading Catalan parties more recently have maintained the existing electoral rules in order to keep the possibility of this majority of seats with a minority of votes, even at the cost of having an election for the independence of Catalonia managed by the Spanish Central Electoral Junta! In a hypothetical independent Catalonia, as it is now, they would not be able to call a new election by themselves.

Pedro Gete said...
muy bueno! ese grafico es muy ilustrativo, menudo lio el q hay montado, a ver si lo arregla Merkel....
Georgetown U.

Jenna Van Stelton said...
Very interesting!
Washington DC

Carles Castro said...
Com sempre, d'acord. 
Pel que fa als cercles, la votació ha desplaçat la base electoral de C's més a l'esquerra, ja que el seu espanyolisme rotund ha atret molts antics votants d'esquerra (i per això han guanyat al Baix o l'Hospitalet). És el que passa quan es tensa tant la corda, que el vot es torna purament identitari, sense cap consideració ideològica.
El cert és que fins el final de la campanya no vaig sospitar que el sobiranisme tenia una reserva per sobre del 9-N. 
La Vanguardia, Barcelona

21 September 2015

The Irrelevant Election in the Greek Protectorate

After the election in Greece last January in which the coalition of the radical left won and formed government, I predicted HERE that “in a year or two” the experience of Syriza government would lead to either a big turnaround of its campaign slogans or to a quick governmental and electoral failure. The former alternative happened, much earlier than expected. 
      As a consequence of the Greek government's acceptance of the bailout from the European Union, the new snap election last Sunday was largely irrelevant. The main task of the government, which is formed again by the far left and the far right, is to implement the Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the European Commission a month ago. You can give it a look HERE and you’ll see that, in fact, Greece has become a protectorate of the European Union. Virtually all policies on taxes, pensions, health care, control of the banks, labor market, competition, energy, administration, justice against corruption and several others are designed and committed to be implemented “over many years”.
       By accepting the EU’s bailout, Greece avoided exit from the euro and the EU. But it also eluded a possible default or declaration of bankruptcy within the EU that would have challenged the Greek rulers to undertake their own way to recovery. Now, Greece is not an independent country. Its sovereignty has been replaced by the EU’s “suzerainty” –as it was termed in the Ottoman Empire--. The Greece’s autonomy is reduced to choose the domestic rulers that will implement the decisions of the European Empire.


Jan Zielonka said...
Dear Josep.
I enjoyed reading your latest blog. As you will see at this link below, my views are very similar to yours:
I hope our paths will cross again before too long.
University of Oxford

Rein Taagepera said...
Ottoman subject states could not opt out of empire.
Greece can. No EU army would intervene,
University of California, Irvine

John Carlin said...
Good stuff!
London and Sitges

12 September 2015

The Bizarre Labour "Primary"
The British Labour Party is back. I mean back to its old days when it lost one election after another. For the first time, the party has held a primary election to select the party leader in which every vote had the same value. The selectorate was formed of party members, members of trade unions and registered party supporters. In total, 422,664 people have actually voted. This is only 4.5 percent of the votes the Labour party obtained in the general election four months ago. In spite of rhetoric about “engaging a wider body of supporters in Labour Party activity” and “expanding the electorate”, the actual participants have mostly been party and trade unions activists with eccentric preferences regarding the whole electorate.
     This kind of ‘primary’ has nothing to do with the United States primaries. In the US, the average participation in the presidential primaries during the last forty years has been above 30 percent of the voters in the presidential election. In the Democratic primary of 2008, more than 52 percent of the party voters participated, and both the Democratic and the Republican primaries may reach high levels of participation this coming year too. The higher the participation in the primaries, the closer the winner tends to be to the preference of the whole electorate. The lower the participation, like in the British Labour experiment, the less electable the winner can be. This seems to be clearly the case of the new party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has won the ‘primary’ with support from only 2.6 percent of the party voters in the last election.
     This looks like a way back to the long period when the British Labour Party was in opposition, during the 1980s and early ’90s, which was attributed partly to the way the party selected candidates for prime minister and members of parliament. While in the winning Conservative Party, leaders and members of parliament kept control of nominations, in Labour, all party members and trade union affiliates had voting rights. Tony Blair achieved to change the party rules to select candidates, particularly by reducing the weight of the trade union affiliates, in the mid-1990s. An electoral college was formed by splitting the votes into three thirds: members of parliament, party members, and trade unions and other organizations.
     With this, Blair was able to promote his centrist ‘Third Way’ between classical Labour and new Conservative policies and to become able to win one election after another. New rules were also established to select new candidates for parliament seats. Instead of being chosen by the party members in each electoral district, candidates to candidate began to be screened by the party central headquarters, they were obliged to attend training weekends, to submit standardized CVs, and to be interviewed by a panel which included members of parliament.
     The intention, according to a senior party figure (quoted by Jeremy Paxman), was to “weed out of the charlatans” who might have somehow sneaked through the old selection system. He was frank about what this meant. People who “appeared not to have a pragmatic line on policy disagreements” or could “not avoid sounding divisive and combative if disagreeing with party policy” would be eradicated.
     By the new primary procedure, the chosen Labour party leader sounds again kind of “divisive and combative”, as in the old times. Most observers bet that he is a likely loser in the next election.

As reproduced in the Financial Times:


Nelson Rojas Carvalho said
Nice your article on such skewed primary. Only 5% of labour voters is a joke. 
Universidade Federal Rural de Rio de Janeiro

Carles Castro said…

Hola Josep. El teu post em va despertar la serotonina ideològica i vaig dedicar-li aquest text als nostres entranyables Jeremys.

Pedro Gete said…
muy interesante estos datos
Georgetown University

Xavi Fornells said...
Bona mirada sobre el binomi primaries/participacio.
Washington, DC

30 August 2015

Greece, Puerto Rico, Catalonia

These three countries are going to make news within the next few weeks. They represent the three major options to the economic and public debt crisis: bailout, default, and exit, respectively. They are all relatively small or medium-size countries, have dubious status within a larger union (be it the European Union, the United States or the Spanish state), and call snap elections, referendums and plebiscites to try to deal with the above mentioned three options.
Greece is for the BAILOUT from the EU. The government called a referendum on the EU’s bailout in July, about 55% of voters said ‘no’, but the government accepted the bailout nevertheless (see this Blog about it CLICK). Then the Syriza ruling party split and the prime minister called a snap election for September 20 (which will be the fourth in a little more than three years). All the polls predict losses for the incumbent party. The bailout will be confirmed any way. There will not be exit so far. And strangely, default is not being considered by the EU.
Puerto Rico is for DEFAULT. The Governor and most people of the island want to declare bankruptcy. But as they are not a state but only a “Commonwealth” of the US, they are asking and getting support from presidential candidates to legalize that option. Bailout is out of question, as the US federal government has not rescued local governments since the mid-19th century (See my comment about it CLICK). Exit is not in the agenda either: the most recent plebiscite and referendum was in 2012; it included 2 questions with 2+4 answers; the result was a kind of tie between keeping the current status and statehood in the US, while independence got less than 4% of votes.
Catalonia may be for EXIT. The current government called an a-legal plebiscite in 2014, with 2 questions and 2+2 answers, in which about 30% of the electoral census voted for an independent state. It has also called a snap election on September 27 (which will be the third in five years). A new candidacy for independence has been formed, which may obtain a majority of votes only if there is low turnout in the election. For several decades, the people of Catalonia were considered to be pristinely Europeanist. But the elephant in the room is that Catexit from Spain would also imply exit from the European Union. This would cancel any EU’s bailout (which actually the government of Catalonia has indirectly received via the Spanish government) and most likely would not prevent default.
My personal wish: Let’s everybody default and stay in or join the larger Union. To discuss.


Rein Taagepera said…
O be,
tot és possible, tot puc creure.
Tartu, Estonia

Joan Ricart Huguet said…
Està molt ben trobat el blog post així a la Hirschman :) 


14 July 2015

Tsipras called the referendum 
to lose!
In a post here a week ago about the weird referendum in Greece, I argued that "no sound government takes the initiative to call a referendum to vote ‘no’".
     Now, former minister of finance, Yanis Varoufakis, explains that, actually, Prime minister Alex Tsipras wanted the 'yes' to win, in order to "have to" accept the deal with the EU that he had already seen as inevitable
     This clarifies the apparent ridiculousness of Tsipras' challenge, which would have been only a gesture for the gallery after he had reached a deal with the EU. 
     It also explains Varoufakis' sudden resignation immediately after the victory of 'no', which would have backed his tough negotiating stance only if had it been supported by his Prime minister.
     In fact, Tsipras too-smart maneuver backfired and now he, according to his previous plans, has accepted the EU deal, but in spite and against the referendum result. A double political defeat.

Varoufakis declarations to ABC radio in Australia:
About his resignation: "I jumped more than I was pushed."
How he realized that Tsipras had wanted and expected the 'yes' would win:
The night of the referendum "I entered the prime minister’s office elated. I was travelling on a beautiful cloud pushed by beautiful winds of the public’s enthusiasm for the victory of Greek democracy in the referendum. The moment I entered the prime ministerial office, I sensed immediately a certain sense of resignation—a negatively charged atmosphere. I was confronted with an air of defeat, which was completely at odds with what was happening outside.
At that point I had to put it to the prime minister: 'If you want to use the buzz of democracy outside the gates of this building, you can count on me. But if on the other hand you feel like you cannot manage, handle this majestic ‘no’ to an irrational proposition from our European partners, I am going to simply steal into the night’... I saw that he [Tsipras] didn’t have what it took emotionally at that moment to carry that novelty to Europe, to use it as a weapon… I decided to give him the leeway that he needed in order to go back to Brussels and strike" the deal.

Listen to Varoufakis' words: CLICK (until minute 3)


Varoufakis confesses Greek government's incompetence:
“If we manage to handle properly a Grexit … it would be possible to have an alternative. But I’m not sure we would manage it, because managing the collapse of a monetary union takes a great deal of expertise, and I’m not sure we have it here in Greece without the help of outsiders.”
In interview with New Stateman CLICK
     In other words: the Greek government didn't have a plan B. And nobody can win a negotiation without a plan B. 


Achim Kemmerling said...
Looking at a survey fielded just a day before the referendum shows what Greeks associated with voting ‘no’. It is clear that Greek naysayers did not really want to leave the Eurozone, but that they want to send a signal to politicians. Effectively a ‘no’ is more like a ‘yes, but’, saying yes to debt renegotiation, but with better conditions for the Greeks... CLICK
Central European University, Budapest

Xavier Vidal-Folch said...
No m’ho puc creure!!!!
D’altra banda, la lleialtat d’aquest senyor és perfectamnent millorable…
Salut sempre,

Xavier VF
El Pais

Salvador Giner said...
Evidentment. La regla elemental de tota política bizantina és voler el contrari del que dius que vols. Grècia no s'enten pensant que són hereus de Sòcrates sino d'Alcibíades. O be: no són fills d'Atenes, sino de Bizanci. Com diu Confuci: embolica, que fa fort.
Universitat de Barcelona

13 July 2015

Greece, our cousin

If Greece cannot be the brother of another 18 full members of the European Union, at least it could be a close cousin. The choice for Greece is to remain a full member of the European Union committed to abide by all the rules derived from the monetary, fiscal and banking union or to move to a second tier of association that, with several variants, already encompasses one third of its members.
     In the past, different countries have shown different degrees of willingness to join the transatlantic alliance of defense, the euro, or the agreements on border control, justice and police. Nowadays, some EU members are not NATO members, others are in the euro but not in Schengen, others are not in the euro but in Schengen, others neither in euro nor in Schengen, and some non-EU members are in either NATO or in euro or in Schengen or in several of these unions. Rather than uniform European integration, there are nowadays different degrees of union across issues and countries.
     In the future, different countries may keep accepting further integration on new issues along different paths and at different speeds. A large group of core countries will remain in the Euro-zone, under the jurisdiction of the European Central Bank and the Fiscal Compact, as well in loyalty to the Schengen agreement. Other countries may keep taking benefit from the European single market, but they may also continue to be out of some of the other commitments.
     The possible Brexit or Grexit have been compared to a separation or a divorce. In the same vein, the variety of allegiances of different countries to the common policies of the European Union can evoke complex family relationships, which are composed of the nuclear family and several connections with first-, second- and third-degree relatives. The actual interactions are partly determined by blood, but affinities, exchanges, and animadversions can also derive from voluntary choices. Likewise, some countries can shift between closer and looser relationships with the EU, choose opt-ins and opt-outs, and enter or leave the Union with different prenups and settlement packages.
     The United States of Europe, in the sense of a compact, homogeneous federation, is not in the horizon. The European Union can endure and succeed, in contrast, as an inwards, non-colonialist “empire” because empires typically hold uneven levels of formal integration of countries and varied degrees of people’s allegiance. The current asymmetries in countries’ degrees of integration are likely to endure. 

09 July 2015

                Politics in Art
                An Anthology     

1. War
2. Kings and Presidents
3. Revolution
4. Voting and elections
                 Video 15 minutes

03 July 2015

The Greek weird game: 
When ‘Yes’ means ‘No’
Some people wonder whether the Greek government of Syriza headed by Alex Tsipras is a group of maverick politicians and skilful game theorists or a bunch of amateurs who improvise every move and don’t know where to go next. A clue to bend on the latter interpretation is how they have called this Sunday’s referendum. It’s not only that it has been called only one week in advance, that the question is undecipherable, and that they may not get on time to cover all the towns and islands of the country. It’s that the question is upside down!
        An elementary rule for callers of a referendum is to call ‘yes’ to what the callers want. This is due, first of all, to a basic democratic element of accountability. A referendum is to ratify (or reject) some proposal or decision previously made by the government, the parliament or whoever organizes the query. If the government’s proposal is rejected, which rarely happens, then the government must resign and its proposal will not be implemented. See how this was the case in Ireland a few weeks ago, where the government called for ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage and won. In last year’s referendum for independence of Scotland, the Scottish government also called for a yes, and as it lost, it resigned. Even in the a-legal query in Catalonia about a similar issue a few months ago, the Catalan government asked for a ‘yes-yes’ (which won but was not validated due to low turnout).
       The only occasions on which the government can call ‘no’ is when the referendum is promoted by a group of citizens to challenge some existing legislation, which may happen in a few places like Alaska or Utah, for instance. In fact, most popular initiatives against government-backed legislation loss. And no sound government takes the initiative to call a referendum to vote ‘no’.
        The other ‘strategic’ reason to call for ‘yes’ is psychological. In general, people prefer ‘yes’: it’s positive, optimistic, it may be based on trust, it comes first to your mind, it’s easy to deliver. ‘No’, in contrast, may require more information on the intricate matter and an attitude of distrust and angriness. Campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote is certainly easier and more cheerful than a ‘no’. Aware of this, the Britons are discussing the question for the announced referendum about Brexit from the EU (which is not going to be called one week before, like the Greek one, but about two years in advance). The independent British Electoral Commission suggested that in addition to the obvious question: “Should the UK remain a member of the EU? Yes or No”, the government should consider a less biased question with the “neutral wording”: “Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU? Remain or Leave”. Still, the status-quo (remain) would be favored. But surely the British government will feel emboldened to have its own way.
       The Greek callers are trying the silly trick of putting ‘No’ above ‘Yes’ in the unreadable and bilingual ballot, as can be seen in the image (Oxi=No, Nay=Yes). This may mislead some voters to vote for the first available option, but it can also surprise others that can react against a too obvious suggestion.
       This Sunday in Greece, if ‘no’ wins, the EU loses. But the Tsipras government would not win anything. Syriza called ‘no’ precisely because they have no-thing to offer. If the ‘yes’ wins, the governments loses and the EU wins. Then it’s the EU that should manage the victory and rule in Greece.

Marjorie Henriquez said...
Very informative! 
from IMF

Pedro Gete said...
muy bueno!
from Georgetown University

Hector Schamis said...
Buena nota sobre el referendum. 
Comparto esta de hoy.
'Argentina y Grecia' CLICK

Argentina had a trade union with Brazil, but no monetary union; Brazil devalued and Argentina had to break parity with the dollar to devalue as well.
Does this mean that Greece should leave the euro to devalue?
Why not take the example of Puerto Rico? It will go into default right now, but without leaving the dollar and without creating a major crisis in all the USA for it.
As you say, over-indebtedness inevitably  leads to "austerity" one way or another. Tsipras & co believe that, with the victory of ‘no’, tomorrow they will sit again at the table with the EU with stronger negotiation power. But the EU can tell them to follow their path.
Like Puerto Rico, California, Illinois, Detroit ...
Argentina, Russia ...
Read more »

14 June 2015

Presidential pre-candidates

With Hillary Clinton’s launch of her candidacy yesterday in New York, the very long season of the US presidential primary elections has formally started. The primary elections in the US presidential regime are the substitute for the formation of post-electoral multiparty coalitions in parliamentary regimes. These are two of the mechanisms that can be used to address the basic problem of a democratic political process: how to aggregate the varied and often contradictory preferences and interests of the citizens into forming, at the end, a single government producing a set of enforceable public policies. 
     In typical European democracies, multiple parties obtain seats in parliament and once there, after the election, they enter into negotiations and agreements to form a majority in support of a prime minister. In the United States, multiple candidates fight to get sufficiently broad support before the election to select only two political candidates running for president. In the European model, the mess is after the election. Some under-informed Americans like to mock those systems that permit the emergence of fringe parties and need several months, sometimes, to settle on a viable candidate for prime minister. In the US system, the mess is before the election. The mock is increasingly addressed to the primary season, where fringe candidates run and need more than a year to settle on a couple of viable candidates.

Claire’s syndrome

With so open opportunities for anybody to present their bets, one can wonder about the motivations of certain people to run for public office. Hillary Clinton is becoming suspect of suffering from the Claire’s syndrome. In the disappointing Netflix series House of Cards, Claire, the First Lady, who gave up her life and work to her husband’s ambition and suffered more indignity than was strictly necessary to help him to get into the White House, in spite of having performed several important foreign missions suddenly feels unfulfilled and decides to start a career on her own. Perhaps she will also run for President in the next season, which may be broadcasted at the same time as the real presidential election.
30'' video

No meat

Hillary’s main challenger within the Democratic primary may be former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, who has just been introduced by The Washington Post as a former follower and disciple of Gary Hart, an unfortunate pre-candidate of more than thirty years ago. Hart became famous from a TV debate in which one of his insubstantial tirades on the need to have "new ideas" was retorted by former vice-president and candidate Walter Mondale: "When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: ‘Where is the beef?’.” 
The ad in question was from a chain of hamburger restaurants which criticized another one. 
You can see the ad here:      And Hart and Mondale’s dialog here:
          CLICK - 30''                               CLICK - 20''

Let's hope some beef will be found.

Two dynasties

On the Republican camp –because actually it is more a camp than a party—the primary season promises to be as weird as it was four years ago. About 15 candidates have announced their intention to throw their hat into the ring. The number one so far, Jeb Bush, may raise the same wonder as Hillary Clinton does regarding his real motivation for seeking office. In this case he may suffer of un-fulfillment regarding not his partner’s but his father’s and his brother’s careers. But should any voter care about family frustrations regarding more fulfilled partners and relatives?

Some people sometimes mock the French system of recruitment of candidates for President and Prime Minister, which is largely based on the École nationale d'administration, the famous ENA. But at least that’s something more or less meritocratic since enrolling in the ENA requires passing a highly selective process of admission. In contrast, creating two dynasties, the Clintons and the Bushes, would be like going back to the pre-modern aristocratic era, when only a few big families fought for top power.


Trying to reduce the foreseeable mess, some TV channels have announced that they will limit the maximum number of participants in public debates to ten, perhaps creating two groups of pre-candidates. Here is as it’s seen by cartoonist Horsey:

Anyone for President

A traditional saying holds that the United States is a great democracy where anybody can be President. Actually this is not well proven. But what it’s clear is that anybody –literally anybody—can be pre-candidate.


Pedro Gete said...
me ha gustado mucho la intro.
?ha estudiado alguien si es mejor la mess antes o despues de la eleccion?
Georgetown U.

Rein Taagepera said...
Me too.
Eiher can be more or less of a mess, depending on details of setup and culture. 

U. California, Irvine

Salvador Giner said...
molt ben vist, per això les primàries a Europa, quan n'hi ha, són una altra cosa. 
Teu, Salvador
U. Barcelona

24 May 2015

John Nash program is alive!

John F. Nash (1028-2015) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994. Most probably he was the Nobel winner with the fewest pages published in his life!. In three articles, he basically introduced two concepts. The so-called Nash equilibrium is the outcome of a game in which no player can improve his results by unilaterally changing his strategy.
     Nash also introduced a normative concept, the “Nash solution,” for bargaining problems in which two or more actors try to reach an agreement on how to divide a good. The classical utilitarian criterion holds that the best social solution is the one that maximizes the sum of the actors’ utilities. This criterion inspires, for instance, the evaluation of the welfare of a country by its average per capita income or by the general level of citizens’ political satisfaction. In contrast, the Nash solution is the one that maximizes the product of the actors’ utilities.

All Going for the Blonde is a Nash equilibrium but not a Nash solution
An example of the Nash solution is given in the Oscar-winning movie A Beautiful Mind (based on the book of the same title by Sylvia Nasar) about the life of John Nash. A group of four students, including Nash, are spending some time in a bar in Princeton when five girls, including a stunning blonde, enter the room. Nash says, “If we all go for the blonde, we block each other and not a single one of us is gonna get her.” He suggests that “no one goes for the blonde,” and that the four boys instead pair up with the other girls –to the bemusement of his fellow students.
  A reasonable interpretation is the following. If only one person obtains the maximum prize, say with value 10, and the other three get nothing, the sum of the four actors’ utilities can be relatively high in comparison with an alternative outcome in which each of the four actors gets a lower value, say of only 2 (since 10 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 10 > 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 8). But the product of utilities in the first outcome is very bad (actually it is zero, since three actors get nothing and can be extremely frustrated), while the product of the latter is higher (2 * 2 * 2 * 2 = 16).
  Generally, in comparison with the classical utilitarian “Bentham sum” solution, the “Nash product” solution favors more egalitarian distributions. For example, under the sum criterion, a distribution of values among three actors such as 3, 2, 1, is as good as the distribution 2, 2, 2 (since both imply a sum of 6 units of social utility). But under the product criterion, the former distribution (whose product is 3 * 2 * 1 = 6) is worse than the latter one (whose product is 2 * 2 * 2 = 8).

(Excerpt from my book: Colomer, The Science of Politics. An Introduction. Oxford UP CLICK)

Also CLICK for 3' video


Rein Taagepera said...
Yes, this is a major example of the broader adding-multiplying dilemma. 
Physicists multiply, today's social scientists tend to add, even when it doesn't add up. 

Oh, that's a great point!
I always thought of Bentham-sum and Nash-product as normative values, but not on how they also imply the analytical difference that you usually emphasize.
So thanks for pointing out what it was in front of my nose.

10 May 2015

The Most Important Day 
of the Twentieth Century

Everything came from there...
Video: 2 minutes
(from Paris brûle-t-il?, Dir.: René Clément)

23 April 2015

as published in Financial Times

Defaulting states and cities 
are still part of the US
Martin Wolf is very much on target when he claims that Greece’s default may not entail Grexit (“Mythology that blocks progress in Greece”, April 22). This is what the example of the US shows.
      In the early years of the Union, the US Treasury mutualised huge debts contracted by the states during the wars for independence. But once the American Union was more consolidated, the federal government stopped giving financial aid to states or cities in bankruptcy; none of them has been rescued since 1840. Actually, thousands of local governments have defaulted, especially after the Civil War, during the Great Depression, and most recently in California, Illinois or Detroit, for example. But none of these states and cities has left the dollar area or the United States!
      So let Greece default because it’s clear, as Mr Wolf says, that the money would not be repaid and that it has always been the case that “stupid lenders lose money”. And let’s keep Greece with the euro and in the European Union.
Josep M Colomer
Professor of Political Economy,
Georgetown University,
Washington, DC, US


Dear Dr Colomer
Thank you for sharing your interesting post.
Allow me to raise a question: how do you envisage letting Greece default and the other countries not? If Greece was the only case, then your position would make sense. Like this, I am really puzzled to comprehend the bigger picture within the Eurozone.
Emil Kirjas
Liberal International

Javier Corrales
Amherst University

Guillem Lopez Casasnovas
Pompeu Fabra University

brilliant, as usual
Angel Gil-Ordóñez

I read your letter to the FT on US states defaults and thought that you might be interested in my new OUP book, an analytical history of European debt. It was given a very supportive review by Andy Moravcsik (Harvard) in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. The book is titled: 'States, Dent and Power: 'Saints' and 'Sinners' in European History and Integration''
My best wishes,
Kenneth Dyson
School of Law and Politics
Cardiff University, UK

Also from 
The Grumpy Economist-John Cochrane's blog
The litGdefault needs not Grexit - CLICK