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Two-Party Competition with Persistent Policies

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  • Jean Guillaume Forand

    (Department of Economics, University of Waterloo)

Abstract

This paper studies the Markov perfect equilibrium outcomes of a dynamic game of electoral competition between two policy-motivated parties. I model incumbent policy persistence: parties commit to implement a policy for their full tenure in office, and hence in any election only the opposition party renews its platform. In equilibrium, parties alternate in power and policies converge to symmetric alternations about the median voter's ideal policy. Parties' disutility from opponents' policies leads to alterna- tions that display bounded extremism; alternations far from the median are never limits of equilibrium dynamics. Under a natural restriction on strategies, I find that robust long-run outcomes display bounded moderation; alternations close to the median are reached in equilibrium only if policy dynamics start there. I show that these results are robust to voters being forward-looking, the introduction of term limits, costly policy adjustments for incumbents, and office benefits.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Waterloo, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1011.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision: Nov 2010
Handle: RePEc:wat:wpaper:1011

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References

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  1. John Duggan & Jeffrey S. Banks, 2008. "A Dynamic Model of Democratic Elections in Multidimensional Policy Spaces," Wallis Working Papers WP53, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  2. Yogesh Uppal, 2009. "The disadvantaged incumbents: estimating incumbency effects in Indian state legislatures," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 9-27, January.
  3. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 2001. "Markov Perfect Equilibrium: I. Observable Actions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 191-219, October.
  4. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2007. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation and Debt," Discussion Papers 1441, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  7. Vincent Anesi, 2010. "A New Old Solution for Weak Tournaments," Discussion Papers 2010-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  8. John Duggan & Tasos Kalandrakis, 2007. "Dynamic Legislative Policy Making," Wallis Working Papers WP45, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  9. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114, February.
  10. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2005. "Inefficiency in Legislative Policy-Making: A Dynamic Analysis," NBER Working Papers 11495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Martin J. Osborne, 1995. "Spatial Models of Political Competition under Plurality Rule: A Survey of Some Explanations of the Number of Candidates and the Positions They Take," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 261-301, May.
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  14. Bernhardt, Dan & Campuzano, Larissa & Squintani, Francesco & Câmara, Odilon, 2009. "On the benefits of party competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 685-707, July.
  15. DeBacker, Jason, 2008. "Flip-Flopping: Ideological Adjustment Costs in the United States Senate," MPRA Paper 8735, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Bernhardt, Dan & Dubey, Sangita & Hughson, Eric, 2004. "Term limits and pork barrel politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2383-2422, December.
  17. Tasos Kalandrakis, 2007. "Majority Rule Dynamics with Endogenous Status Quo," Wallis Working Papers WP46, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  18. John Duggan & Mark Fey, 2006. "Repeated Downsian electoral competition," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 39-69, December.
  19. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
  20. Jeffrey Banks & John Duggan, 2006. "A Social Choice Lemma on Voting Over Lotteries with Applications to a Class of Dynamic Games," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 285-304, April.
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  23. Kramer, Gerald H., 1977. "A dynamical model of political equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 310-334, December.
  24. Rosenthal, Howard & Alesina, Alberto, 1989. "Partisan Cycles in Congressional Elections and the Macroeconomy," Scholarly Articles 4553031, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  25. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Jean Guillaume Forand & John Duggan, 2013. "Markovian Elections," Working Papers 1305, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2013.

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