Erik Gahner Larsen

An Economic Theory of Democracy (1957)

På side 7:

Our approach to elections illustrates how this narrow definition of rationality works. The political function of elections in a democracy, we assume, is to select a government. Therefore rational behavior in connection with elections is behavior oriented toward this end and no other. Let us assume a certain man prefers party A for political reasons, but his wife has a tantrum whenever he fails to vote for party B. It is perfectly rational personally for this man to vote for party B if preventing his wife’s tantrums is more important to him than having A win instead of B. Nevertheless, in our model such behavior is considered irrational because it employs a political device for a nonpolitical purpose.

I diskussionen om forholdet mellem individuel rationalitet og partirationalitet, side 161:

Individual rationality means pursuit of one’s own goals in the most efficient manner. But men live in society and in a world of scare resources; so when each pursues his own goals, his actions affect other men. Furthermore, these other men never have precisely the same goals that he has. Therefore conflicts between men inevitably arise.


Politics is the system of settling these conflicts so that each individual may achieve some of his goals. All men cannot achieve all their goals simultaneously, because when one man does so, his actions prevent others from doing so; that is what conflict means. Thus the very nature of society places limits on individual rationality – not all individuals can achieve pure rationality at once.

Og vigtigst af alt – fra side 28:

Upon this reasoning rests the fundamental hypothesis of our model: parties formulate policies in order to win elections, rather than win elections in order to formulate policies.