Endogenous Origin of Polarization

in Election Intervention

Foreign powers intervene often in democratic elections.  While we understand some of the causes and consequences of foreign meddling, why candidates in target states adopt divergent policy platforms on issues foreigners care about - a necessary condition for intervention - has not received scrutiny. Current thinking views platform divergence as stemming from pre-existing social divisions. In contrast, we develop a Downsian formal model to show that the availability of foreign support can lead to divergent positions even where candidates have no special ideological or other attachment to the foreign power or powers, and where voters' preferences are single-peaked.  Our model explains the degree of polarization with the presence of multiple interveners, the existence of restrictions on foreign financing to the opposition, and with the manner in which foreign help is allocated - via private or public goods.  We discuss the implications of the results for existing empirical findings and for further research.