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A Vindication of Responsible Parties


  • John Duggan

    () (W. Allen Wallis Institute of Political Economy, 107 Harkness Hall, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0158)

  • Dan Bernhardt

    () (Department of Economics and Department of Finance,Department of Economics, University of Illinois, 1206 S. Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820, US)

  • Francesco Squintani

    () (Department of Economics, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom)


Electoral platform convergence is perceived unfavorably by both the popular press and many academic scholars. This paper provides a formal account of these perceived negative effects. We show that when parties do not know voters’ preferences perfectly, voters prefer some platform divergence to the convergent policy outcome of competition between opportunistic, office-motivated, parties. We characterize when voters prefer responsible parties (which weight policy positively in their utility function) to oppor- tunistic ones. Voters prefer responsible parties when office benefits and concentration of moderate voters are high enough relative to the ideological polarization between parties. In particular, with optimally-chosen office benefits, responsible parties improve welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • John Duggan & Dan Bernhardt & Francesco Squintani, 2008. "A Vindication of Responsible Parties," Wallis Working Papers WP58, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:roc:wallis:wp58

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