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Parties as Political Intermediaries


  • Bernard Caillaud
  • Jean Tirole


This paper argues that parties regulate competition among Hke-minded factions so as to enhance reputation building by, and voter trust in, the politicians standing for a given cause. While intra- and interparty competition contributes to keeping politicians on their toes, unbridled competition may encourage politicians to challenge good platforms and to wage competition along socially suboptimal dimensions (for example, by privileging form over content). The paper builds a simple model of intraparty competition and studies whether various hierarchical or democratic party institutions constitute an efficient form of party governance. The paper shows that intraparty disagreements, when they occur, hurt the party's position in the general election, but that their possibility enhances party image; and that parties must be able to avoid behind-the-scene allocations of portfolios and spoils in order to be credible. Last, it analyzes the impact of political polarization and interparty competition on the choice of party governance.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernard Caillaud & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Parties as Political Intermediaries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1453-1489.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:4:p:1453-1489.

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