After defeat: how governing parties respond to electoral loss

Yotam Margalit, Tara Slough, Michael M. Ting

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    How do governing parties respond in terms of ideological positioning when voted out of office? We study both theoretically and empirically the factors that shape parties' responses following a loss. Studying national elections in advanced industrialized democracies over the past 70 years, we show that parties tend to counter their pre-election shifts, and do so particularly strongly following defeat. The extent of these ideological shifts is more limited in parties with a larger selectorate voting on the party leadership. Moreover, we find that subsequent to loss, parties are less likely to run on a centrist platform. Notably, shifting away from the center is associated with a higher probability of returning to power. We then introduce a dynamic model of party leadership selection and platform positioning. The model produces patterns of ideological positions over time that are consistent with our empirical findings.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)739-758
    Number of pages20
    JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


    • Political parties
    • ideological positioning
    • intraparty governance
    • leadership selection
    • selectorate

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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