DP6281 Party Formation and Racism

Author(s): Vincent Anesi, Philippe De Donder
Publication Date: May 2007
Keyword(s): electoral competition, polarization, political parties, salience
JEL(s): D72
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6281

We develop a model where voters differ in their exogenous income and in their ideological views regarding what we call 'racism'. Electoral competition, modelled à la Levy (2004), takes place between (one or several) parties which propose platforms consisting of both an ideological and an economic dimension. Our objective is to explain the emergence of racist policies when a majority of voters is not racist, and to understand the role played by political parties in this emergence. We first show that, in a pure citizen-candidate model where parties are absent, the only equilibrium consists of the non-racist policy. We then show that allowing for the formation of political parties generates equilibria with racist policies. Finally, our main result states that, if the economic issue is sufficiently salient compared to the ideological one, all equilibria consist of a racist policy, and that the lowest degree of racism of these policies increases with the proportion of poor people in the economy.