Policy-Motivated Parties in Dynamic Political Competition
Journal of Theoretical Politics, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 9-31, January 2007
35 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007
We analyze a model of a dynamic political competition between two policy-motivated parties under uncertainty. The model suggests that electoral mandates matter: increasing the margin of victory in the previous election causes both parties to shift towards policies preferred by the winner, and the loser typically shifts more than the winner. The model also provides potential answers to a number of empirical puzzles in the field of electoral politics. In particular, we provide possible explanations for why close elections may lead to extreme platforms by both parties, why increased extremism in the platform of one party may lead to greater moderation in the platform of the other party, and why increasing polarization of the electorate causes winning candidates to become more sensitive to mandates. We also show that, contrary to previous findings, increasing uncertainty sometimes decreases platform divergence. Finally, we pay special attention to the proper methodology for doing numerical comparative statics analysis in computational models.
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