Political Succession as Policy Succession: Why so much Stability?

  • Hannu Nurmi


A couple of years ago the editor of Public Choice, Professor Gordon Tullock, invited the readers of the journal to write brief comments on the topic ‘Why so much stability?’ The underlying motivation for the invitation was an obvious discrepancy between what the spatial models of voting and elections ‘predict’ and what we observe around us. More specifically, the results achieved by Kramer, McKelvey, Plott and Schofield suggest that in multidimensional policy-spaces the voting equilibria are extremely rare.1 And yet the real world voting processes seem far from chaotic. Rather, what we see in them is either a relatively orderly change from one policy alternative to another as a non-arbitrary response to preference changes of the voters or no change at all except for the nomenclature of the choices. The purpose of this chapter is to address the above question in the light of social choice theory; in other words, an explanation or a set of explanations will be sought for this apparent stability partly in the very same theory which has been interpreted as implying the instability or chaos.


Social Choice Policy Succession Winning Coalition Social Choice Function Condorcet Winner 
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© Peter Calvert 1987

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  • Hannu Nurmi

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