Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics

Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics

Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics

Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics

Synopsis

Clearly written and easily understood by the nonspecialist, Nested Games provides a systematic, empirically accurate, and theoretically coherent account of apparently irrational political actions.

Excerpt

This book analyzes cases in which an actor confronted with a series of choices does not pick the alternative that appears to be the best. In the course of the book, the reader will see that British Labour party activists who consider their standing MP too moderate may vote to replace her, although that choice may lead to the loss of a seat for the Labour party; that Belgian elites who are considered in the consociational literature to be accommodating and compromising in character sometimes initiate political conflict; and that French political parties in certain constituencies do not support their coalition partner, leading their own coalition to defeat.

Why are situations in which an actor chooses an alternative that appears to be against her own interests, or not the best she can do under the existing circumstances, intriguing? Why do they demand explanation? Choices that do not appear to be the best an actor can do are puzzling because most observers assume (at least implicitly) that people try to behave in ways that maximize the achievement of their presumed goals, that is, they make optimal choices. The goal of this book is to provide a systematic, empirically accurate, and theoretically coherent account of apparently suboptimal choices. The following examples illustrate the importance and frequence of apparently suboptimal choices in politics.

I. Some Apparently Suboptimal Choices

Urho Kekkonen was first elected president of Finland in 1956. His presidency was so successful that he occupied the office for twenty-

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