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February 09, 2015

Comments

Luis Enrique

you don't mention proportional representation - isn't that system compatible with catering for diversity? First past post means always wanting to stand just to the side of your opponent.

Nick

Have you read Antony Downs' 'An Economic Theory of Democracy'? It's effectively Hotelling's theories applied to elections and parties, but does stress that the tendency for parties to converge usually only applies in two-party majoritarian systems.

But, I was principally referring to Liberal Democrat strategy for the upcoming election which appears to be devoted solely to proving to destruction that there is only a tiny market for pure unabashed split-the-difference centrism in Britain.

FromArseToElbow

The SNP want an entirely separate beach (with added midges), the Greens want the beach closed due to breeding turtles, and UKIP want to cover the beach in barbed wire and tank-traps.

For all that, I've got a feeling that the market for icecream may remain robust.

Gobanian

But the ice cream stall which set up inland won't be the only survIvor when rains wreck the beach. Because the inland stall will have gone bust in the years before. This is exactly what happened witH the banks. Banks which were cautious lost business and eventually had to sell out to the risk taking
Banks which made big money when times were good. The reason that we only had badly indebted and over extended banks like RBS in 2007 is that they had bought up all the cautious ones. Hotelling strategies are inevitable even though they do indeed sometimes lead to Minsky crashes

Dinero

There is another, arithmetic aspect ,with a two party situation.

If a party presents a policy that appeals to the voters of the other party they stand to achieve an advantage of two votes. One extra to them and minus one from the other party. Net advantage two votes.

If they present a policy that appeals to their own voters where the voter was decided to vote for them anyway, then there is no change. If they present a policy that appeals to an undecided voter they get an advantage of one vote. If they present a policy that appeals to the voters of the other party they stand to achieve an advantage of two votes. One extra to them and minus one from the other party. Net advantage two votes.

Dinero

6.42 continued.

If in the process of taking one of the other sides voters, they alienate one of their own voters then the outcome is net equal.

If in the process of taking one of the other sides voters they alienate one of their own voters who then does not participate then the net gain is one vote. That process could continue , causing dwindling turnout over time, until the turnout is very low and third party makes an inroad.

rogerh

Typically a safe seat tends to get little attention from the centre. Voters may seek to weaken a safe incumbent in the hope of getting attention. But a possible reaction is for all the central parties to say 'sod them' on the principle that most local projects are troublesome and expensive vote-losers anyway.

Presumably the ice cream vendors held out on the beach until seaside holidays vanished, unfortunately there is no chance politicians will vanish.

Phil

Footnote to a footnote: those party membership trends are fascinating - particularly the post-2013 period which they (understandably) don't include in their graphs.

Which is the largest:
- the individual membership of the Labour Party
- the combined individual memberships of the Conservative Party (or local Conservative Associations) and the Liberal Democrats
- the combined individual memberships of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP and the Green Party (or parties)

Answer: they're all about the same, in the 180-200,000 region.

I don't know what's more surprising - how far the Tories have fallen, how far the small parties have risen or how well Labour membership has held up (it's around the 2003 level, and above the level of 2008-9).

Jim Harrison

A similar mechanism explains why commercial products so often become mediocre over time. New products attract attention precisely because they have marked characteristics, but once they appear the marketing department guys insist that they be modified to appeal to the widest possible audience. I think of it as the jalapeño cycle because I first noticed it when the peppers in the supermarkets became milder and milder after spicy food became popular. Of course the process makes room for other products, but I expect that the habaneros will gradually follow suit.

John Whitesell

While parties have an understandable preference to winning elections over losing them, they're goal is to actually secure political objectives. As long as this holds, parties wont actually be identical.

drunkard in italy

If only the Arab spring were a bit warmer

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