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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The claim of this article that party competition is a necessary precondition for democracy may not strike all readers as particularly innovative. It starts by defining what is meant by a political party, by a party system, and by a competitive party system. Then, it describes how both citizens and politicians benefit from the construction of and adherence to clear party labels in a self-enforcing equilibrium. Meaningful party labels allow voters to play a substantial role in selecting the direction of policy and holding politicians accountable; ambitious politicians affiliate with parties that create meaningful and popular labels; a party will be competitive when its label attracts a sufficient number of voters and ambitious candidates; and a competitive party system consists of two or more parties each of which is in equilibrium.

Keywords: party competition, democracy, elections, political party, party system, citizens, politicians

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