Party Formation and Racism

32 Pages Posted: 21 May 2008

See all articles by Vincent Anesi

Vincent Anesi

University of Nottingham

Philippe De Donder

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)

Date Written: May 2007


We develop a model where voters differ in their exogenous income and in their ideological views regarding what we call 'racism'. Electoral competition, modelled à la Levy (2004), takes place between (one or several) parties which propose platforms consisting of both an ideological and an economic dimension. Our objective is to explain the emergence of racist policies when a majority of voters is not racist, and to understand the role played by political parties in this emergence. We first show that, in a pure citizen-candidate model where parties are absent, the only equilibrium consists of the non-racist policy. We then show that allowing for the formation of political parties generates equilibria with racist policies. Finally, our main result states that, if the economic issue is sufficiently salient compared to the ideological one, all equilibria consist of a racist policy, and that the lowest degree of racism of these policies increases with the proportion of poor people in the economy.

Keywords: Electoral competition, polarization, political parties, salience

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Anesi, Vincent and De Donder, Philippe, Party Formation and Racism (May 2007). Available at SSRN:

Vincent Anesi (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

School of Economics, Room B18,
SCG, University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 1GD
United Kingdom


Philippe De Donder

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) ( email )

Place Anatole-France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042

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