The Democratic Class Struggle: A Survey of Recent Results
UC Davis Working Paper #96-07
Posted: 18 Feb 1997
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: Suggested Citation