Original Paper

International Journal of Game Theory

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 39-69

First online:

Repeated Downsian electoral competition

  • John DugganAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science and Department of Economics, University of Rochester Email author 
  • , Mark FeyAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Rochester

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We analyze an infinitely repeated version of the Downsian model of elections. The folk theorem suggests that a wide range of policy paths can be supported by subgame perfect equilibria when parties and voters are sufficiently patient. We go beyond this result by imposing several suitable refinements and by giving separate weak conditions on the patience of voters and the patience of parties under which every policy path can be supported. On the other hand, we show that only majority undominated policy paths can be supported in equilibrium for arbitrarily low voter discount factors: if the core is empty, the generic case in multiple dimensions, then voter impatience leads us back to the problem of non-existence of equilibrium. We extend this result to give conditions under which core equivalence holds for a non-trivial range of voter and party discount factors, providing a game-theoretic version of the Median Voter Theorem in a model of repeated Downsian elections.


Elections Repeated game Subgame perfect equilibrium Folk theorem Median voter theorem