Ideologues: Explaining Partisanship and Persistence in Politics (and Elsewhere)

36 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2010

See all articles by Benno Buhler

Benno Buhler

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Munich Graduate School of Economics (MGSE)

Anke S. Kessler

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics; University of Bonn - Economic Science Area; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: March 2010

Abstract

This paper provides an explanation for why political leaders may want to adopt ideological positions and maintain them over time even in the face of conflicting evidence. We study a dynamic framework in which politicians are better informed than the voting public about an underlying state of nature that determines the desirability of a given policy measure. The issue itself is non-partisan (everybody has the same policy preferences) but voters attach ideological labels to both candidates and available policy alternatives. We show that both sides may be caught in an ideology trap: because voters expect the perceived ideology of office holders to determine their political actions, politicians are tempted to act according to their perceived ideology, resulting in political failure.

Keywords: Ideology, Partisanship, Polarization, Policy Persistence, Political Competition

JEL Classification: H11, N40

Suggested Citation

Buhler, Benno and Kessler, Anke S., Ideologues: Explaining Partisanship and Persistence in Politics (and Elsewhere) (March 2010). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7724. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1573428

Benno Buhler (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Munich Graduate School of Economics (MGSE) ( email )

Kaulbachstrasse 45
M√ľnchen, 80539
Germany

Anke S. Kessler

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
604-291-3443 (Phone)
604-291-5944 (Fax)

University of Bonn - Economic Science Area ( email )

Adenauerallee 24-42
D-53113 Bonn
Germany
+49 228 739 246 (Phone)
+49 228 739 221 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.wipol.uni-bonn.de/~kessler/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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