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Platform Divergence, Political Efficiency and the Median Voter Theorem

  • Carrillo, Juan D
  • Castanheira, Micael

The Paper analyses a standard Downsian model of election with two opportunistic parties. We assume that, after choosing their ideological position but before the election takes place, parties can affect the quality of their platforms by exerting some unobservable effort. When voters either (almost) always or (almost) never observe the resulting quality before the election, the standard Median Voter Theorem holds. For the more general case of imperfect observability of quality, however, we show that parties may optimally deviate from the median voter’s bliss point as an implicit commitment to exert high effort (and therefore obtain a high-quality platform). The Paper thus argues that extremist parties are endogenously more committed to their ideas than moderate parties. Moreover, the extra quality implied by the divergence of parties will sometimes offset their worse ideology proposed, in which case the voters’ welfare under divergence is greater than under convergence of platforms. Last, we endogenize the amount of information revealed to voters by assuming that a profit maximizing press collects the news about the quality of parties and sells it to the electorate. We show that the press may collect an amount of information that is excessively high from a social viewpoint.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3180.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3180
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  1. Micael Castanheira, . "Why Vote for Losers?," Working Papers 125, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  2. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," NBER Working Papers 6329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," Working Papers 100, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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  8. Palfrey, Thomas R, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 139-56, January.
  9. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Towards Micropolitical Foundations of Public Finance," Working Papers 119, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  10. John E. Roemer, 1997. "Political-economic equilibrium when parties represent constituents: The unidimensional case," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 479-502.
  11. repec:dgr:kubcen:1997118 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Jean Tirole & Jean-Jaques Laffont, 1985. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Working papers 368, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  13. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
  14. Bernard Caillaud & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Parties As Political Intermediaries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1453-1489, November.
  15. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  16. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
  17. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221, February.
  18. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114, February.
  19. Michele Polo, . "Electoral competition and political rents," Working Papers 144, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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