This letter investigates how voter transitions between parties affect parties’ policy positioning. While a growing literature investigates the role of election results as signals for parties’ policy adaption, it has mostly focused on vote changes of individ- ual parties. However, parties do not only know if they won or lost in an election, but have more detailed information on which parties they won votes from and which parties they lost votes to. We make two arguments about how voter transitions should affect the strategic policy choices of political parties. First, when a party has lost votes to another party it will adapt its policy positions toward that party. Second, parties that have overall lost more votes become more likely to adapt their positions. Making use of a data set on individual voter transitions and party positions we can demonstrate that voter transitions indeed affect parties’ competitive behavior.

Authors: Tarik Abou-Chadi and Lukas F. Stoetzer

Keywords: Electoral competition, party competition, voter transitions

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