Applications: Turkey, Japan, and the UK
The important equilibrium is a semi-separating equilibrium. Thus, I discuss the national elections in Turkey, Japan, and the UK as examples of this equilibrium.10 Since my model is simple, these examples do not exactly match my model. For example, my model considers only two symmetric parties, a plurality voting system, and a single-policy issue. In Japan, Turkey, and the UK, there are more than two parties. Turkey uses proportional representation (PR), and Japan employs parallel voting, including both PR and single-member districts. Additionally, it is rare to have an election with a single-policy issue and symmetric parties.11
However, I show here that these examples have at least the following four important characteristics of a semi-separating equilibrium: (1) one party’s platform is more moderate than the other party’s platform; (2) voters guess that such a party is an extreme type; (3) voters are uncertain whether the opposition(s) is an extreme type; and (4) the party that announces the more moderate platform wins the election.
In Turkish politics, there are two large groups, namely. Political Islam and secular parties. Broadly speaking, secularists, represented by parties such as the Republican People’s Party, support democratic systems and politico-religious separation. Political Islam, represented by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), wants to introduce Islamic doctrines into some policies. The AKP and the prime minister, Recep Erdogan, have promoted the AKP as the party of reform, a party that supports democratic systems, including politico-religious separation. Most citizens support secularism in Turkey, and the AKP's promises were almost the same as those encapsulated in the opponent’s policies. Nevertheless, voters realized that the AKP is the extreme Islamic party (Dagt, 2006). On the other hand, in the 2007 Turkey presidential election, the Turkish military, which supports secularism, stated that “the Turkish armed forces have been monitoring the situation with concern.” People interpreted this as a threat of a coup and started to worry that the secular parties would support extreme secular policies, such as using violence against Political Islam. Thus, voters were uncertain about the secular party’s type. Finally, the AKP won the 2007 elections.
Therefore, this case has the four characteristics of a semi-separating equilibrium: (1) the AKP compromised greatly by promising politico- religious separation; (2) people recognized the AKP as an extreme party that still supported Political Islam; (3) the type of the opponents became uncertain for voters after the threat of a coup; and (4) the AKP won.
In Japan between 1998 and 2016, there were two main parties, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which supports increasing government spending on, for example, public works to sustain rural areas, and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which supports economic reforms and reducing government debt. In 2001, the LDP chose Junichiro Koizumi as their leader. Koizumi promised to implement economic reforms such as reducing government works and debt, and moreover, promised to “destroy” the (traditional) LDP. After the “great depression” during the 1990s, many Japanese supported implementing economic reforms rather than traditional economic policies, so the LDP’s position should have been further from the median policy than the DPJ after the 1990s. Indeed, voters were afraid that the LDP would not implement the economic reforms (Mulgan, 2002). The opposition, the DPJ, had no experience in government, so voters remained uncertain about the party. Finally, the LDP led by Koizumi won the elections in 2001,2003, and 2005.
This case also satisfies the four characteristics of a semi-separating equilibrium: (1) the LDP compromised greatly by promising to destroy the traditional LDP; (2) people still believed that the LDP was too conservative; (3) the DPJ’s type was uncertain for voters, as it had no experience in government; and (4) the LDP won.
In the UK, there are two major parties, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. Broadly speaking, while the Conservative Party supports the free market, the Labour Party is famous for its support of socialist policies and for being supported by labor unions. The Labour Party had not been in government since 1979 because many citizens did not support socialist policies. In 1994, the Labour Party chose Tony Blair as their leader, and he promised the “Third Way” and free-market policies. Most members of the Labour Party supported Blair, although some, such as members of labor unions, still supported socialist policies. This means that the Labour Party compromised greatly by choosing Blair as their leader. On the other hand, voters were uncertain about the Conservative Party preferences because of infighting between factions. As a result, the Labour Party won the 1997 election (Clarke, 2004).
This case matches the four characteristics of a semi-separating equilibrium, as follows: (1) the Labour Party compromised greatly by promising the Third Way; (2) people believed that the Labour Party supported socialist policies, since many members still supported these policies; (3) the type of the Conservative Party was uncertain for voters because of intra-party conflict; and (4) the Labour Party won.