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Electoral Platforms, Implemented Policies, and Abstention

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  • Humberto Llavador

Abstract

Recent studies of American politics evidence that political polarization of both the electorate and the political elite have moved "almost in tandem for the past half century" (McCarty et al., 2003, p.2), and that party polarization has steadily increased since the 1970s. On the other hand, the empirical literature on party platforms and implemented policies has consistently found an imperfect but nonnegligible correlation between electoral platforms and governmental outcomes: while platforms tend to be polarized, policies are moderate or centrist. However, existing theoretical models of political competition are not manifestly compatible with these observations. This paper distinguishes between electoral platforms and implemented policies by incorporating a non-trivial policy-setting process. It follows that voters may care not only about the implemented policy but also about the platform they support with their vote. We find that while parties tend to polarize their positions, the risk of alienating their constituency prevents them from radicalizing. The analysis evidences that the distribution of the electorate, and not only the (expected) location of a pivotal voter, matters in determining political outcomes. Our results are consistent with the observation of polarized platforms and moderate policies, and the alienation and indifference components of abstention.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 34.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:34

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Keywords: Platforms; voting; polarization; abstention; alienation;

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References

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  1. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, December.
  2. Leonardo Felli & Antonio Merlo, 2003. "Endogenous Lobbying," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 448, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. Francesco Sinopoli & Giovanna Iannantuoni, 2007. "A spatial voting model where proportional rule leads to two-party equilibria," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 267-286, January.
  4. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
  5. Matthew Ellman & Leonard Wantchekon, 1999. "Electoral competition under the threat of political unrest," Economics Working Papers 457, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. Ignacio OrtuÓo-OrtÎn, 1997. "A spatial model of political competition and proportional representation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 427-438.
  7. Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin & Anke Gerber, 1998. "Political compromise and endogenous formation of coalitions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 445-454.
  8. Humberto G. Llavador, 2000. "original papers : Abstention and political competition," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 411-432.
  9. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  10. Alesina, Alberto & Rosenthal, Howard, 2000. "Polarized platforms and moderate policies with checks and balances," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 1-20, January.
  11. Alessro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . "The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives," Penn CARESS Working Papers b96440ba0bfa06ca550ac40aa, Penn Economics Department.
  12. Dixit, Avinash K & Grossman, Gene & Gul, Faruk, 1998. "A Theory of Political Compromise," CEPR Discussion Papers 1935, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas. R., 2000. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model With a Favored Candidate," Working Papers 1102, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  14. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey., 1987. "Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes," Working Papers 643, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  15. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-86, April.
  16. Alesina, Alberto & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "A Theory of Divided Government," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1311-41, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Alejandro Saporiti, 2013. "Power Sharing and Electoral Equilibrium," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1301, Economics, The University of Manchester.
  2. Laussel, Didier & Le Breton, Michel & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2013. "Simple Centrifugal Incentives in Downsian Dynamics," IDEI Working Papers 778, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  3. Gani Aldashev, 2013. "Voter Turnout and Political Rents," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 294, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  4. Llavador, Humberto, 2008. "Voting with preferences over margins of victory," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 355-365, November.
  5. Kimiko Terai, 2009. "Electoral control over policy-motivated candidates and their policy biases," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 43-64, January.

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