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Nonconvergent Electoral Equilibria under Scoring Rules: Beyond Plurality


Journal of Public Economic Theory

Published online on


We use Hotelling's spatial model of competition to investigate the position‐taking behavior of political candidates under a class of electoral systems known as scoring rules, though the model also has a natural interpretation in the firm location context. Candidates choose ideological positions so as to maximize their support in society. Convergent Nash equilibria in which all candidates adopt the same policy were characterized by Cox (1987). Here, we investigate nonconvergent equilibria, where candidates adopt divergent policies. We identify a number of classes of scoring rules exhibiting a range of different equilibrium properties. For some of these, nonconvergent equilibria do not exist. For others, nonconvergent equilibria in which candidates cluster at positions spread across the issue space are observed. In particular, we prove that the class of convex rules does not have Nash equilibria (convergent or nonconvergent) with the exception of some derivatives of Borda rule. We also look at “two‐party” equilibria. Implications for the firm location model are discussed.