Convergence in Context: Simulating Party–Elector Interactions within a Downsian Framework

Ian Budge, Hans Keman, Michael McDonald and Paul Pennings

in Organizing Democratic Choice

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654932
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741685 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Convergence in Context: Simulating Party–Elector Interactions within a Downsian Framework

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The chapter starts our analysis of representation with Downs’ model of two parties converging in policy terms towards the median elector because it is still, after fifty years, the most direct, concise and influential account of how popular preferences could get translated through elections into government policy. Any attempt to provide an alternative explanation of representative processes has thus to show why the convergence account should be modified or superceded. This can be done in several ways. First the chapter shows that the convergence model is only one of a family of models, defined by differences on four conditions. Manipulating these conditions produces alternative models which in some respects perform just as well on long-term measures of representation as classic convergence on the median. However none match up to it over all three representational criteria – congruence, responsiveness and over-time correspondence of preferences and policy (neutrality). This makes it important to evaluate the convergence model in terms of internal consistency and fit with available evidence, which will be done in Chapter 2.

Keywords: party convergence; party divergence; median; congruence; responsiveness; bias/neutrality; tracking

Chapter.  13639 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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