George Tsebelis, Nested Games (1990), Chapter 5.

Main Argument: Chapter addresses political strategy dilemmas between MPs in the UK and party activists. It is essentially a rational choice explanation for the differences in behaviour vis-à-vis long and short term goals, reputations and matters of party ideology.

Method: Rational choice/game theory. Builds models to show when it is favourable to be more “activist” or more moderate in a constituency (as a candidate).


== Notes ==

– Assumed a one-shot, and later a iterated game (nested inside parties at the national level)

– There exists “radical” party activists who have lots of sway over the local candidate

– In many cases, the MP has to weigh whether it is more popular to be a moderate or an activist

– This will depend on what sanctions and rewards are available for use by the party activists, the electorate and the national party


Have to take into account the following:

– Do both members have the same amount of information

– Is information complete or incomplete

– Is there a combination of iteration and one-shot games



– Safe seats are more likely to have extreme representatives and marginal seats are more likely to have moderates

– If there is a four actor game (one shot with perfect information, no possibility of open disagreement), the actor who has the last move will win [144]

– If the game is iterated and information is incomplete, it becomes rational for activists to reject moderates because in the long run they will have a reputation for being tough

– Reselection games are nested inside a competitive game between parties at the constituency and national levels

– A close race in the constituency strengthens the position of the moderate MP (median voter theorem)

– Political congruence between any actor and an actor with veto power increases the first actor’s bargaining potential

– Balance of power is influenced by institutional arrangements


*Lesson: ideology are endogenous (as a cost cutting device –> contra Downs) to political activity when they are adopted as solutions to recurring games [156]