A Vindication of Responsible Parties
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Economics
University of Rochester - Department of Economics; University of Rochester - Department of Political Science
University of Essex - Department of Economics
July 15, 2008
Electoral platform convergence is perceived unfavorably by both the popular press and many academic scholars. This paper provides a formal account of these perceived negative effects. We show that when parties do not know voters' preferences perfectly, voters prefer some platform divergence to the convergent policy outcome of competition between opportunistic, office-motivated, parties. We characterize when voters prefer responsible parties (which weight policy positively in their utility function) to opportunistic ones. Voters prefer responsible parties when office benefits and concentration of moderate voters are high enough relative to the ideological polarization between parties. In particular, with optimally-chosen office benefits, responsible parties improve welfare.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: elections, policy motivation, platform divergence, symmetric equilibrium, existence, uniqueness
JEL Classification: D72, C61working papers series
Date posted: July 16, 2008
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