Nicolas Motz

Something went wrong with this pic.

I am a visiting lecturer (profesor visitante) in the Department of Economics at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. My research interests focus on political economy and applied game theory.

You can download my CV as a PDF here. Alternatively, click here for a more mobile-friendly html version.

Work in Progress

Bureaucrats versus Politicians? Estimating a Model of Legislative Bargaining in the European Union

joint with Joseph-Simon G├Ârlach and Christian Odendahl

Refuge and Refugee Migration: How Much of a Pull Factor Are Recognition Rates?

joint with Joseph-Simon G├Ârlach

Working Papers

A Higher Calling: Career Concerns and the Number of Political Parties

(Heavily revised version of "How Political Parties Shape Electoral Competition")

It is generally accepted that first-past-the-post elections induce a tendency towards only two parties competing in a given election. What is less clear is why we should see the same two parties competing in separate districts or at different levels of government, as it is the case in the US. In fact, it seems puzzling that no third parties are able to enter successfully in the US, given the almost complete lack of competition in some states. This paper proposes the career concerns of politicians as an explanation and demonstrates this in a novel model of party formation: state politicians would like to advance their career to the federal level, but only have the opportunity of doing so as a member of a federally successful party. If politicians value such career opportunities sufficiently strongly, entry of additional parties at the state level does not occur. There then exists an equilibrium with two parties, one centre-left and one centre-right, where each party dominates some states. When career concerns are weak, on the other hand, the number of parties in equilibrium will be at least equal to three with a tendency towards parties with a narrower ideological profile.

Download paper

This paper provides a model of party formation that can explain political monopolies, where one party consistently wins elections with a large share of votes. I use data on election results from a sample of federal countries to demonstrate that monopolies are observable at the state rather than the federal level, and that these monopolies are typically held by national parties with a relatively broad ideological appeal. This raises the question of why there is no entry of regional parties better able to cater to the political preferences of voters in particular states. In the model, the answer lies in the career concerns of politicians: State politicians would like to advance their career to the federal level, but only have the opportunity of doing so as a member of a federally successful party. If politicians value such career opportunities sufficiently strongly, entry of regional parties does not occur. There then exists an equilibrium with two parties, one centre-left and one centre-right, where each party dominates some states. Beyond explaining the existence of regional monopolies, the model is also able to reproduce broader patterns in the data on election results and makes empirical predictions regarding the sorting of politicians into parties across different regions.

Download paper

Competing Candidates, Competing Interest Groups, and the Efficacy of Political Threats

Interest groups seem to achieve large policy favours for small sums of campaign contributions. This has long puzzled observers. I provide an explanation of this so called "Tullock paradox" that is robust to competition among opposing interests. In the model, I allow interest groups to specify their donations as very general functions of policies and donations by other groups. This allows potential donors to influence the policy choice of an incumbent through threats of contributions to the campaign of a challenger. It is therefore possible that the incumbent chooses policies that favour a particular interest group even if this group has not made any actual donations. When lobbies face a small amount of uncertainty about the policy that the incumbent will choose, I am able to provide a clear characterisation of equilibrium. Policies are always skewed in favour of the group with deeper pockets. This group may also use actual donations on top of threats in order to increase its influence over policies. The weaker lobby, on the other hand, does not promise any money for any policy the incumbent may implement. Outcomes nevertheless differ from the case with only one interest group as the weaker group can become active if the stronger group tries to exert even more pressure.

Download paper

Interest groups seem to achieve large policy favours for small sums of campaign contributions. This has long puzzled observers. I provide an explanation of this so called "Tullock paradox" that is robust to competition among opposing interests. In the model, I allow interest groups to specify their donations as very general functions of policies and donations by other groups. This allows potential donors to influence the policy choice of an incumbent through threats of contributions to the campaign of a challenger. It is therefore possible that the incumbent chooses policies that favour a particular interest group even if this group has not made any actual donations. When lobbies face a small amount of uncertainty about the policy that the incumbent will choose, I am able to provide a clear characterisation of equilibrium. Policies are always skewed in favour of the group with deeper pockets. This group may also use actual donations on top of threats in order to increase its influence over policies. The weaker lobby, on the other hand, does not promise any money for any policy the incumbent may implement. Outcomes nevertheless differ from the case with only one interest group as the weaker group can become active if the stronger group tries to exert even more pressure.

Download paper

Who Emerges from Smoke-Filled Rooms? Political Parties and Candidate Selection

This paper presents a model of candidate selection through political parties where politicians differ in terms of their quality and their favored policies. The central assumption is that political parties are better informed about their potential candidates than voters are. Questions of interest include whether voters can gain information about candidates by observing the party's choice and to what extent parties select the candidates preferred by the median voter. The results depend crucially on how competitive the race is. Under strong competition, nominating a politically more extreme politician is a signal of high quality. Sufficient competition also induces parties to act in the interest of the median voter most of the time, even when parties attach very little intrinsic value to quality. As ideological alignment between the median voter and a party reduces the degree of competition that this party faces, the median voter can be better off when parties are polarized.

Download paper

This paper presents a model of candidate selection through political parties where politicians differ in terms of their quality and their favored policies. The central assumption is that political parties are better informed about their potential candidates than voters are. Questions of interest include whether voters can gain information about candidates by observing the party's choice and to what extent parties select the candidates preferred by the median voter. The results depend crucially on how competitive the race is. Under strong competition, nominating a politically more extreme politician is a signal of high quality. Sufficient competition also induces parties to act in the interest of the median voter most of the time, even when parties attach very little intrinsic value to quality. As ideological alignment between the median voter and a party reduces the degree of competition that this party faces, the median voter can be better off when parties are polarized.

Download paper