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Electoral platforms, implemented policies and abstention

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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 policies: 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. In this paper, we distinguish 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 policies. 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 Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 571.

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Date of creation: Sep 2001
Date of revision: Oct 2004
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:571

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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Keywords: Abstention; alienation; platforms; polarization; voting;

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  1. Ignacio OrtuÓo-OrtÎn, 1997. "A spatial model of political competition and proportional representation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 427-438.
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  10. DE SINOPOLI, Francesco & IANNANTUONI, Giovanna, 2000. "A spatial voting model where proportional rule leads to two-party equilibria," CORE Discussion Papers 2000037, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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Cited by:
  1. Laussel, Didier & Le Breton, Michel & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2013. "Simple Centrifugal Incentives in Downsian Dynamics," TSE Working Papers 13-405, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  2. Humberto Llavador, 2005. "Voting with preferences over margins of victory," Economics Working Papers 900, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Nov 2006.
  3. Gani Aldashev, 2013. "Voter Turnout and Political Rents," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 294, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  4. Alejandro Saporiti, 2013. "Power Sharing and Electoral Equilibrium," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1301, Economics, The University of Manchester.
  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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