DP1054 | The Determinants of Success of Special Interests in Redistributive Politics

Publication Date

30/11/1994

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Abstract

We construct a locational model of majority voting when competing parties offer special favours to interest groups. Each group's membership is heterogeneous in its affinities for the two parties. Individuals face a trade-off between party affinity and their own transfer receipts.The model is sufficiently general to yield two often-discussed but competing theories as special cases. If the parties are equally effective in delivering transfers to any group, the outcome of the process conforms to the `swing voter' theory: both parties woo the politically-central groups most responsive to economic favours. If groups have party affiliations and each party is more effective in delivering favours to its own support group, we can get the `machine politics' outcome, where each party dispenses favour to its core support group. But in some circumstances the machine may find it advantageous to tax its core and use the proceeds to win the support of other voters.