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Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, "Party Moderation and Politicians' Ideological Rigidity," Party Politics, 10 (May 2004), 325-342.

First Paragraph:
Sometimes parties do moderate. They announce to the electorate that in the event they win elections, their policies will be moderate even if in the past they have defended radical platforms. This announcement implies ideological change and the jettisoning of some of the party's fundamental political principles and aspirations. Moderation typically takes place through extraordinary congresses of the parties concerned. Some outstanding examples from the left are the abandonment of Marxism both by the SPD (German Social Democratic Party) in the Extraordinary Congress at Bad Godesberg in 1959 and by the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) in its 1979 Extraordinary Congress, and the metamorphosis of the PCI (Italian Communist Party) into the PDS (Democratic Party of the Left) in the 1991 XX Congress. There are cases where moderation is the outcome of a slow evolution, without the drama of extraordinary congresses, as in the gradual change of the British Labour Party between its 1983 radical platform and its winning 1997 moderate one.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. The spatial position of parties and the median voter

Last Paragraph:
Empirical cases of moderation show that moderation often takes place in the wake of a reduction in a party's ideological rigidity as a consequence of some organizational reform or of leadership renovation. When moderation is not the best response to the positions occupied by the median voter and the incumbent, a party will moderate only if it softens its dogmatism. When parties are ideologically rigid, party competition follows an interesting pattern: long periods of stability in which a rigid party stays in opposition, punctuated by periods of change in which the opposition party reduces its rigidity, moderates and eventually wins elections.

updated November 2013