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.
- ideological positioning
- intraparty governance
- leadership selection
- Political parties
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations