Party Competition and Responsible Party Government

A Theory of Spatial Competition Based Upon Insights from Behavioral Voting Research
James Adams
A marriage of behavioral and formal theory to explain the electoral strategies of political parties


In countries with multiparty political systems, we assume—if the system is going to work—that parties have relatively stable positions on policy, that these positions diverge, and that voters make choices based on policy preferences. Yet much of the research on voter behavior and party competition does not support these assumptions.

In Party Competition, James Adams applies the insights of behavioral research to an examination of the policy strategies that political parties (and candidates) employ in seeking election. He argues that vote-seeking parties are motivated to present policies that appeal to voters, whose bias toward these policies is based in part on reasons that have nothing to do with policy. He demonstrates that this strategic logic has profound implications for party competition and responsible party government.

Adams's innovative fusion of research methodologies presents solutions to issues of policy stability and voter partisanship. His theory's supported by an in-depth analysis of empirical applications to party competition in Britain, France, and the United States in the postwar years.

Party Competition and Responsible Party Government will appeal to readersinterested in the study of political parties, voting behavior and elections, as well as to scholars specializing in French, British, and American politics.

James Adams is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a compelling and innovative book on elections and political party competition in France, Great Britain, and the United States. It unites theoretical modeling and data analysis to help us understand how parties in multiparty democracies compete when citizens both are partisan and care about the issue positions of the parties. . . . I encourage scholars of parties and elections to pay attention to Party Competition and Responsible Party Government. Not only does Adams use some unconventional methods; he also combines methods in new ways and even pushes some of those methodologies further, such as in his simulating party strategies using voters' preferences derived from surveys. His findings and his overall conclusions will be hard for persons in any research tradition to refute."
    —Ken Kollman, University of Michigan, Perspectives on Politics, March 2003

Look Inside

Copyright © 2001, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 250pp.
  • 62 drawings.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2001
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08767-9

Add to Cart
  • $30.95 U.S.

Related Products