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Formal Models of Elections and Political Bargaining



The key theoretical idea in this paper is that activist groups contribute resources to their favored parties in response to policy concessions from the parties. These resources are then used by a party to enhance the leader’s valence — the electoral perception of the quality of the party leader. The equilibrium result is that parties, in order to maximize vote share, will balance a centripetal electoral force against a centrifugal activist effect. Under proportional electoral rule, there need be no pressure for activist groups to coalesce, leading to multiple political parties. Under plurality rule, however, small parties face the possibility of extinction. An activist group linked to a small party in such a polity has little expectation of influencing government policy. The paper illustrates these ideas by considering recent elections in Turkey, Britain and the United States, as well as a number of European polities.

Suggested Citation

  • Norman Schofield & Ugur Ozdemir, 2009. "Formal Models of Elections and Political Bargaining," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 3(3), pages 207-242, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:fau:aucocz:au2009_207

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Norman Schofield & Christopher Claassen & Ugur Ozdemir & Alexei Zakharov, 2011. "Estimating the effects of activists in two-party and multi-party systems: comparing the United States and Israel," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 36(3), pages 483-518, April.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:04:p:1181-1206_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. McKelvey, Richard D & Schofield, Norman, 1987. "Generalized Symmetry Conditions at a Core Point," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 923-933, July.
    4. Norman Schofield, 2006. "Equilibria in the spatial stochastic model of voting with party activists," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 10(3), pages 183-203, December.
    5. McKelvey, Richard D. & Patty, John W., 2006. "A theory of voting in large elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 155-180, October.
    6. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model with a Favored Candidate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 131-161, March.
    7. Norman Schofield, 2007. "The Mean Voter Theorem: Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Convergent Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 965-980.
    8. Ansolabehere, Stephen & Snyder, James M, Jr, 2000. "Valence Politics and Equilibrium in Spatial Election Models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 327-336, June.
    9. Banks, Jeffrey s. & Duggan, John, 2000. "A Bargaining Model of Collective Choice," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 94(01), pages 73-88, March.
    10. Adams, James, 1999. "Multiparty Spatial Competition with Probabilistic Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(3-4), pages 259-274, June.
    11. Norman Schofield & Maria Gallego & Ugur Ozdemir & Alexei Zakharov, 2011. "Competition for popular support: a valence model of elections in Turkey," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 36(3), pages 451-482, April.
    12. Adams, James, 1999. "Policy Divergence in Multicandidate Probabilistic Spatial Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 100(1-2), pages 103-122, July.
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    More about this item


    Election; plurality rule; proportional representation; activist groups;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government


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