Why are political leaders often attacked by their ideological allies? The paper addresses this puzzle by presenting a model in which the conflict between the incumbent and his allies is ideological, dissent is electorally costly, and voters are learning about their own policy preferences over time. Here, by dissenting against the incumbent (and thereby harming the party in the upcoming election), the allies can change his incentives to choose more or less extreme policies, which affects the amount of voter learning. This induces a trade-off between winning the current election and inducing the party leadership to pursue the allies' all-things-considered more-preferred policy. Optimally balancing this trade-off sometimes involves active dissent that damages the party in the short-run. In equilibrium dissent arises precisely because it is electorally costly.
Federica Izzo is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the London School of Economics. She was a visiting researcher at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago in 2017, and will be at NYU's Department of Politics in the spring of 2018. She holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from the LSE and a BSc in Political Science from LUISS University (Rome).
Her main area of interest is Formal Theory. Her research investigates how ideology influences parties’ strategic behaviour, especially in contexts of incomplete information, as well as the accountability and self-selection of elected officials.