The Democratic Class Struggle: A Survey of Recent Results

UC Davis Working Paper #96-07

Posted: 18 Feb 1997

See all articles by John E. Roemer

John E. Roemer

Yale University - Department of Political Science; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: May 1996


The Downsian model, in which candidates care only about winning elections and parties play no role, has been hegemonic in formal political theory for forty years. In the past fifteen years, various authors have worked with a model of electoral competition in which competing parties represent different interest groups. This paper reviews the author's work with the model of partisan/ideological parties. The principal selling points of the model are that, if ideological parties are uncertain about voter preferences, then electoral equilibrium consists in parties' proposing different policies, and the probabilities of victory (in a two party model) being different from 0.5. Applications of the model to understanding the relationship of democracy to economic development, the presence of long political cycles, and the failure of the poor to expropriate the rich in democracies are presented. Finally, a model is proposed that unifies the Downsian and ideological perspectives.

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Roemer, John E., The Democratic Class Struggle: A Survey of Recent Results (May 1996). UC Davis Working Paper #96-07, Available at SSRN:

John E. Roemer (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5249 (Phone)
203-432-6196 (Fax)


Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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