Valence, complementarities, and political polarization Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2021

start page

  • 39

end page

  • 57


  • 128

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0899-8256

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1090-2473


  • I study a model of electoral competition where two parties that care about both the spoils of office and policy compete by announcing policy platforms. Parties are characterized by their valence on the one hand and by their policy platforms on the other. Unlike in the extant literature, I assume that valence and policy are complements (instead of substitutes) from the voter's perspective. I generally characterize electoral equilibrium and show that in such a framework increasing one or both parties'valence level(s) leads to policy moderation. To the contrary, if both parties have minimal valence policy platforms are maximally polarized. The model hence uncovers valence as an important determinant of political polarization.


  • Economics


  • electoral competition; valence; platform polarization; complements