Party governance and ideological bias

B. Caillaud*, J. Tirole

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Scopus citations


    Informed opinions are essential to a good functioning of democratic institutions. Political intermediaries, such as parties, make up the free-riding voters' informational deficit. Public opinion and voting outcomes are shaped by those parties whom the voters trust. The credibility of parties is fashioned by their internal organization. The paper investigates one aspect of party governance, namely the allocation of control rights over platform design. The party's leadership either selects a platform, or simply recommends a platform for adoption by the rank-and-file. Under the latter (democratic) institution, the leadership has no formal authority, but for informational and procedural reasons may still have substantial real control over the final platform, depending on the congruence between leadership and rank-and-file. In particular, the rank-and-file is generally more concerned with the ideological content of the platform than the leadership, who is motivated by the benefits from electoral office. The paper argues that in centrist parties, the high congruence of interest between the rank-and-file and office seekers leads to systematic rubberstamping of the leadership's electoral platforms; the resulting weak internal control mechanism hurts party credibility.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)779-789
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Economic Review
    Issue number4-6
    StatePublished - Apr 1999


    • Democratic institutions
    • Internal organization
    • Parties

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Finance
    • Economics and Econometrics

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