A Caltech Library Service

Issues, Economics and the Dynamics of Multi-Party Elections: The British 1987 General Election

Alvarez, R. Michael and Bowler, Shaun and Nagler, Jonathan (1996) Issues, Economics and the Dynamics of Multi-Party Elections: The British 1987 General Election. Social Science Working Paper, 949. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF (sswp 949 - Jan. 1996) - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


This paper offers a model of three-party elections which allows voters to combine retrospective economic evaluations with considerations of the positions of the parties in the issue-space as well as the issue-preferences of the voters. We describe a model of British elections which allows voters to consider simultaneously all three parties, rather than limiting voters to choices among pairs of parties as is usually done. Using this model we show that both policy issues and the state of the national economy matter in British elections. We also show how voters framed their decisions. Voters first made a retrospective evaluation of the Conservative party based on economic performance; and those voters that rejected the Conservative party chose between Labour and Alliance based on issue positions. Through simulations of the effects of issues—we move the parties in the issue space and re-estimate vote-shares—and the economy—we hypothesize an alternative distribution of views of t h e economy for voters—we show that Labour has virtually no chance to win with the Alliance as a viable alternative. Even if the Alliance (or the Liberal Democrats) disappears. Labour will need to significantly moderate its policy positions to have a chance of competing with the Conservative party. We argue that the methodological technique we employ multinomial probit, is a superior mechanism for studying three-party elections as it allows for a richer formulation of politics than do competing methods.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemPublished Version
Alvarez, R. Michael0000-0002-8113-4451
Additional Information:Comments are welcome. Portions of this research have been presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association in 1994 and 1995; the Annual Meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association in 1994 and 1995; the Political Methodology Summer Conference in 1995: and the 1995 Southern California Political Economy Meetings. We thank Nathaniel Beck, Nigel Boyle. Geoff Garrett, John Jackson, Jonathan Katz, Doug Rivers, and Guy Whitten for comments on previous versions of this work. Nagler thanks the NSF for grant SBR-9413939. Published as Alvarez, R. Michael, Jonathan Nagler, and Shaun Bowler. "Issues, economics, and the dynamics of multiparty elections: The British 1987 general election." American Political Science Review 94, no. 1 (2000): 131-149.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Subject Keywords:Voting, Conservatism, Political parties, Political science, Economic models, Unemployment, Taxes, Political elections, Simulations, Taxation
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:949
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170817-140948569
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80572
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:21 Aug 2017 17:11
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

Repository Staff Only: item control page