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Primaries: the unifying force

Hortala-Vallve, Rafael and Mueller, Hannes (2015) Primaries: the unifying force. Public Choice, 163 (3-4). pp. 289-305. ISSN 0048-5829

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11127-015-0249-8


We present a formal model of intra-party politics to explain candidate selection within political parties. We think of parties as heterogeneous groups of individuals who aim to implement a set of policies but who differ in their priorities. When party heterogeneity is too great, parties are in danger of splitting into smaller yet more homogeneous political groups. In this context we argue that primaries can have a unifying role if the party elite cannot commit to policy concessions. Our model shows how three factors interact to create incentives for the adoption of primary elections, namely (1) the alignment in the preferred policies of various factions within a party, (2) the relative weight of each of these factions and (3) the electoral system. We discuss the existing empirical literature and demonstrate how existing studies can be improved in light of our theoretical predictions to provide a new, structured perspective on the adoption of primary elections.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: ©2015 Springer Science + Business Media New York
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D71 - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D72 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
Date Deposited: 19 May 2015 15:50
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:02

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