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The optimal degree of polarization

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

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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 20 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 255-262

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Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:20:y:2004:i:1:p:255-262
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
  4. Ignacio Ortuno Ortin & Christian Schultz, 2000. "Public Funding of Political Parties," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0735, Econometric Society.
  5. Narwa, Daniel, 2001. "How general should the proximity model be?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 53-74, March.
  6. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
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