The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Democratic Paradoxes

  • Norman Schofield
Reference work entry


Formal models of voting have emphasized the mean voter theorem, namely, that all parties should rationally adopt identical positions at the electoral mean. The lack of evidence for this assertion is a paradox which this article attempts to resolve by considering an electoral model that includes ‘valence’ or non-policy judgements by voters of party leaders. In a polity such as Israel, based on proportional electoral rule, low-valence parties would adopt positions far from the centre, making coalition formation unstable. In Britain, by contrast, a party with a low-valence leader would be subject to the demands of non-centrist activists.


Condorcet, Marquis de Democratic paradoxes Downs, A. Hotelling, H. Local Nash equilibrium Madison, J. Median voter theorem Mixed strategy Nash equilibrium Plurality electoral rule Political competition Proportional representation Pure strategy Nash equilibrium Valence Vote maximizing strategies Voting 

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This article is based on research supported by NSF Grant SES 024173. The table and figures are reproduced from Schofield and Sened (2006) by permission of Cambridge University Press.


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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Schofield
    • 1
  1. 1.