Delegation and Polarization of Platforms in Political Competition
We consider a model of political competition among two ideological parties who are uncertain about the distribution of voters. The distinguishing feature of the model is that parties can delegate electoral decisions to candidates by nomination. It is shown that if the credible platform commitments of the candidates are feasible, then at least one of the parties nominates in equilibrium to a candidate who has an ideology that is more radical than the delegating party's ideology. In a variety of circumstances, this, in turn, yields a polarization of equilibrium policy choices of the candidates. It is thus argued formally that strategic nomination of the candidates may well be one of the major reasons behind the well documented observation that the platforms associated with the political parties in two-party democracies are often surprisingly polarized.
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