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Why Vote For Losers?

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  • Micael Castanheira

    (European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics and Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

Voting theory generally concludes that, in first-past-the-post elections, all votes should go to effective candidates (Duverger's Law), and parties should adopt a similar platform (median voter theorem). However, such predictions are not always met in practice. We show why divergence and vote dispersion is a natural outcome when (a) parties are opportunistic, (b) there is uncertainty on the position of the median voter and (c) elections are repeated. "Voting for losers" increases the informational content of elections, and may induce mainstream parties to relocate towards extremists. As a result, to maximize their probability of being elected, they do not adopt median platforms, but instead diverge to a certain extent. (JEL: D72, D81) Copyright (c) 2003 The European Economic Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 1 (2003)
Issue (Month): 5 (09)
Pages: 1207-1238

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:1:y:2003:i:5:p:1207-1238

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  1. Myerson, Roger B., 1999. "Theoretical comparisons of electoral systems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 671-697, April.
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  7. Castanheira, Micael, 2002. "Why Vote for Losers?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3404, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  13. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
  14. Roger B. Myerson & Robert J. Weber, 1988. "A Theory of Voting Equilibria," Discussion Papers 782, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  15. Piketty, Thomas, 1999. "The information-aggregation approach to political institutions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 791-800, April.
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