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Policy and the Dynamics of Political Competition


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.

Corresponding author
Michael Laver is Professor, Department of Politics, New York University, 726 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10003-9580 (
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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