Equilibria in the spatial stochastic model of voting with party activists. (English) Zbl 1160.91328

Summary: Stochastic models of elections typically indicate that all parties, in equilibrium, will adopt positions at the electoral center. Empirical analyses discussed in this paper suggest that convergence of this kind is rarely observed. Here we examine a stochastic electoral model where parties differ in their valences – the electorally perceived, non-policy ”quality” of the party leader. It is assumed that valence may either be exogenous, in the sense of being an intrinsic characteristic of the leader, or may be due to the contributions of party activists, who donate time and money and thus enhance electoral support for the party. Theorem 1 shows that vote maximization depends on balancing these two opposed effects. Theorem 2 provides the necessary and sufficient conditions for convergence to the electoral mean when activist valence is zero. The paper then examines empirical electoral models for the Netherlands circa 1980 and Britain in 1979, 1992 and 1997 and shows that party divergence from the electoral mean cannot be accounted for by exogenous valence alone. The balance condition suggests that the success of the Labour party in the election of 1997 can be attributed to a combination of high exogenous valence and pro-Europe activist support.


91B12 Voting theory
91B70 Stochastic models in economics
Full Text: DOI


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