Abstract

This paper analyzes the problem that an incumbent faces during the legislature when deciding how to react to popular initiatives or policy proposals coming from different sources. We argue that this potential source of electoral disadvantage that the incumbent obtains after being elected can jeopardize the reelection possibilities of the incumbent. We analyze the decision of the incumbent when facing reelection and we characterize the conditions under which the advantages that the incumbent obtains can overcome the disadvantages. Finally, we use the results of this analysis to discuss some implications of the use of mechanisms of direct democracy like referenda and popular assemblies on electoral competition.