Electoral Volatility and Pre-Electoral Alliances
53 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2022 Last revised: 15 Jun 2022
Date Written: March 28, 2022
In multi-party systems, parties often form alliances before elections. What brings competing parties to coalesce into new entities? I present a model of electoral competition in which parties can form pre-electoral alliances and decide how binding these should be. Parties face a dynamic trade-off between insuring themselves against significant shifts in public opinion and allowing flexibility to respond to future electoral changes. The model shows that more binding alliances such as mergers emerge in equilibrium when electoral volatility is high; instead, when voters are predictable (e.g., highly partisan), parties either run alone or form more flexible pre-electoral coalitions. When the electorate is sufficiently volatile, a risk-averse party might prefer an extreme merger partner to a moderate one. Results also show how the choice of alliances depends on the institutional environment.
JEL Classification: D72,C72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation