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Party competition in a heterogeneous electorate – the role of dominant-issue-voters


  • Bischoff, Ivo


This paper provides a theoretical model of party competition in a heterogeneous electorate. The latter consists of numerous groups of dominant-issue-voters who base their voting decision primarily on one issue of the political agenda. Parties follow a lexicographic objective function, aiming to gain power at minimum programmatic concessions. The emerging pattern of movement in policy platforms is fundamentally different to the concept of convergence proposed by the spatial theory of voting. Rather than the centre of the scale of policy preference, its extreme ends, occupied by dominant-issue-voters, attract the policy platforms. The difference in policy platforms is not reduced. The conclusions are found to be compatible with some major empirical findings of the Manifesto Research Group.

Suggested Citation

  • Bischoff, Ivo, 2003. "Party competition in a heterogeneous electorate – the role of dominant-issue-voters," Finanzwissenschaftliche Arbeitspapiere 68, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:jlufwa:68

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Adams, James, 2001. "A Theory of Spatial Competition with Biased Voters: Party Policies Viewed Temporally and Comparatively," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(01), pages 121-158, January.
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    7. Fain, James & Dworkin, James B, 1993. "Determinants of Voter Participation: Some Simulation Results," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 823-834, December.
    8. Coughlin, Peter J & Mueller, Dennis C & Murrell, Peter, 1990. "Electoral Politics, Interest Groups, and the Size of Government," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 682-705, October.
    9. Congleton, Roger D, 2001. "Rational Ignorance, Rational Voter Expectations, and Public Policy: A Discrete Informational Foundation for Fiscal Illusion," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 107(1-2), pages 35-64, April.
    10. Robert Inman, 1978. "Testing political economy’s ‘as if’ proposition: is the median income voter really decisive?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 45-65, December.
    11. Kalt, Joseph P & Zupan, Mark A, 1984. "Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 279-300, June.
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    13. Ansolabehere, Stephen & Snyder, James M, Jr, 2000. "Valence Politics and Equilibrium in Spatial Election Models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 327-336, June.
    14. Thomas R. Palfrey, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 139-156.
    15. McKelvey, Richard D., 1976. "Intransitivities in multidimensional voting models and some implications for agenda control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 472-482, June.
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    17. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
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