This paper analyzes a spatial model of political competition between two policy-motivated parties in hard times of crisis. Hard times are modeled in terms of policy-making costs carried by a newly elected party. The results predict policy divergence in equilibrium. If the ideological preferences of parties are quite diverse and extreme, there is a unique equilibrium in which the parties announce symmetric platforms and each party wins with probability one half. If one party is extreme while the other is more moderate, there is a unique equilibrium in which the parties announce asymmetric platforms. If the preferred policies of the parties are not very distinct, there are two equilibria with asymmetric platforms. An important property of equilibrium with asymmetric platforms is that a winning party necessarily announces its most preferred policy as a platform.Spatial model; Political competition; Two-party system; Policy-motivated parties; Hard times; Crisis.
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