Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 4 > Issue 4

A Reputational Theory of Two-Party Competition

Tasos Kalandrakis, University of Rochester, kalandrakis@ur.rochester.edu
Suggested Citation
Tasos Kalandrakis (2009), "A Reputational Theory of Two-Party Competition", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 4: No. 4, pp 343-378. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00008047

Published: 15 Dec 2009
© 2009 T. Kalandrakis
Electoral behavior,  Formal modelling,  Political parties,  Campaigns
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In this article:
Simple Equilibria
Equilibrium with Office Motivations
Reputation and Policy Dynamics


I study a dynamic game of two-party competition in which party preferences are private information, exhibit serial correlation, and change with higher probability following defeat in elections. Assuming partisans care sufficiently about office, extreme policies are pursued with positive probability by the government when (a) both parties have a reputation for being extreme that exceeds a fixed level, and (b) elections are close in that both parties have similar reputations. Two qualitatively different equilibrium dynamics are possible depending on the speed with which the latent preferences of parties in government shift between moderation and extremism relative to the opposition. One dynamic produces regular government turnover and extreme policies along the path of play, whereas the other involves a strong incumbency advantage and moderate policies.