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The optimal degree of polarization

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  • Ossokina, Ioulia V.
  • Swank, Otto H.

Abstract

This discussion paper led to a publication in the 'European Journal of Political Economics', 2004, 20, 255-262. In the literature on electoral politics full convergence of policy platforms is usually regarded as socially optimal. Thereason is that risk-averse voters prefer a sure middle-of-the-road policy to a lottery of two extremes with the sameexpectation. In this paper we study the normative implications of convergence in a simple model of electoralcompetition, in which parties are uncertain about voters' preferences. We show that if political parties haveincomplete information about voters' preferences, the voters may prefer some degree of policy divergence. Theintuition is that policy divergence enables voters to correct policies that are based on a wrong perception of theirdesires.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ossokina, Ioulia V. & Swank, Otto H., 2004. "The optimal degree of polarization," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 255-262, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:20:y:2004:i:1:p:255-262
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin & Christian Schultz, 2005. "Public Funding of Political Parties," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(5), pages 781-791, December.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:01:p:142-157_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:71:y:1977:i:04:p:1467-1487_26 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Narwa, Daniel, 2001. "How general should the proximity model be?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 53-74, March.
    5. Roger B. Myerson, 1995. "Analysis of Democratic Institutions: Structure, Conduct and Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 77-89, Winter.
    6. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
    7. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
    8. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Silvia Dominguez-Martinez & Otto Swank, 2006. "Polarization, Information Collection and Electoral Control," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 26(3), pages 527-545, June.
    2. Hortala-Vallve, Rafael & Esteve-Volart, Berta, 2011. "Voter turnout and electoral competition in a multidimensional policy space," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 376-384, June.
    3. Matsushima, Noriaki, 2007. "Uncertainty of voters' preferences and differentiation in a runoff system," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1185-1189, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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