Policy and the dynamics of political competition

Michael Laver

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper proposes a model that takes the dynamic agent-based analysis of policy-driven party competition into a multiparty environment. In this, voters continually review party support and switch parties to increase their expectations; parties continually readapt policy positions to the shifting affiliations of voters. Different algorithms for party adaptation are explored, including "Aggregator" (adapt party policy to the ideal policy positions of party supporters), Hunter (repeat policy moves that were rewarded; otherwise make random moves), Predator (move party policy toward the policy position of the largest party), and "Sticker" (never change party policy). Strong trends in the behavior of parties using different methods of adaptation are explored. The model is then applied in a series of experiments to the dynamics of a real party system, described in a published opinion poll time series. This paper reports first steps toward endogenizing key features of the process, including the birth and death of parties, internal party decision rules, and voter ideal points.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)263-281
    Number of pages19
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 2005

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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