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Ideologues: Explaining Partisanship and Persistence in Politics (and Elsewhere)

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  • Buehler, Benno
  • Kessler, Anke

Abstract

This paper provides an explanation for why political leaders may want to adopt ideological positions and maintain them over time even in the face of conflicting evidence. We study a dynamic framework in which politicians are better informed than the voting public about an underlying state of nature that determines the desirability of a given policy measure. The issue itself is non-partisan (everybody has the same policy preferences) but voters attach ideological labels to both candidates and available policy alternatives. We show that both sides may be caught in an ideology trap: because voters expect the perceived ideology of office holders to determine their political actions, politicians are tempted to act according to their perceived ideology, resulting in political failure.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7724.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7724

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Related research

Keywords: Ideology; Partisanship; Polarization; Policy Persistence; Political Competition;

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References

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  1. Cukierman, A. & Tommasi, M., 1997. "When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China," Papers 30-97, Tel Aviv.
  2. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746, May.
  3. Anke Kessler, 2005. "Representative versus direct democracy: The role of informational asymmetries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 9-38, January.
  4. Stephen Coate & Stephen Morris, . "Policy Persistence," CARESS Working Papres 97-2, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  5. Steven Callander, 2008. "Political Motivations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 671-697.
  6. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Economics Working Papers 0020, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
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  10. Stephen Morris, 2001. "Political Correctness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 231-265, April.
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  12. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2005. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1283-1330, November.
  13. Alesina, Alberto & Cukierman, Alex, 1990. "The Politics of Ambiguity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 829-50, November.
  14. Navin Kartik & R. Preston McAfee, 2007. "Signaling Character in Electoral Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 852-870, June.
  15. Ansolabehere, Stephen & Snyder, James M, Jr, 2000. " Valence Politics and Equilibrium in Spatial Election Models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 327-36, June.
  16. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . ""An Economic Model of Representative Democracy''," CARESS Working Papres 95-02, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  17. Keith Poole, 2007. "Changing minds? Not in Congress!," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 435-451, June.
  18. Palfrey, Thomas R, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 139-56, January.
  19. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect Or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859, August.
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