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Party platforms in electoral competition with heterogeneous constituencies


  • Kittsteiner, Thomas

    () (London School of Economics)

  • Eyster, Erik

    () (London School of Economics)


This paper shows how political parties differentiate to reduce electoral competition. Two parties choose platforms in a unidimensional policy space, and then candidates from these parties compete for votes in a continuum of constituencies with different median voters. Departing from their parties' platforms is costly enough that candidates do not take the median voter's preferred position in every constituency. Because the candidate whose party is located closer to the median voter gets a higher expected payoff, parties acting in their candidates' best interests differentiate---when one party locates right of center, the other prefers to locate strictly left of center to carve out a "home turf,'' constituencies that can be won with little to no deviation from the platform of the candidate's party. Hence, competition that pulls candidates together pushes parties apart. Decreasing "campaign costs'' increases party differentiation as the leftist party must move further from the rightist party to carve out its home turf, as does increasing heterogeneity across constituencies.

Suggested Citation

  • Kittsteiner, Thomas & Eyster, Erik, 2007. "Party platforms in electoral competition with heterogeneous constituencies," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(1), pages 41-70, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:the:publsh:176

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heidhues, Paul & Lagerlof, Johan, 2003. "Hiding information in electoral competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 48-74, January.
    2. Thomas R. Palfrey, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 139-156.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Mattozzi & Matias Iaryczower, 2008. "Ideology and Competence in Alternative Electoral Systems," 2008 Meeting Papers 980, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Anja Prummer, 2016. "Spatial Advertisement in Political Campaigns," Working Papers 805, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    3. Ashworth, Scott & Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan, 2009. "Elections with platform and valence competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 191-216, September.
    4. repec:kap:pubcho:v:173:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0463-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Alexei Zakharov, 2009. "A model of candidate location with endogenous valence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 347-366, March.
    6. Raphael Boleslavsky & Christopher Cotton, 2015. "Information and Extremism in Elections," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 165-207, February.
    7. Shino Takayama & Yuki Tamura & Terence Yeo, 2016. "Nash Equilibrium and Party Polarization in an Electoral Competition Model," Discussion Papers Series 575, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    8. Stefan Krasa & Mattias Polborn, 2007. "Majority-efficiency and Competition-efficiency in a Binary Policy Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 1958, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Evrenk, Haldun & Lambie-Hanson, Timothy & Xu, Yourong, 2013. "Party-bosses vs. party-primaries: Quality of legislature under different selectorates," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 168-182.

    More about this item


    Political parties; median voter; Hotelling competition;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games


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