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Electoral Competition when Candidates are Better Informed than Voters

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  • Thomas Jensen

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

In this paper we study the functioning of representative democracy when politicians are better informed than the electorate about conditions relevant for policy choice. We consider a model with two states of the world. The distribution of voters' preferred policies shifts with the state. The two candidates are both completely office-motivated but differ in state-dependent quality. Voters have some information about the state but candidates are better informed. If voters' information is unknown to the candidates when they take positions and sufficiently accurate then candidates will, in refined equilibrium, reveal their information by converging to the most likely median. If voters' information is not sufficiently accurate then there is polarization and the candidates'information is not revealed to the voters. We also show that if voters'information is known to the candidates then they will never reveal their information to the voters. The candidates will either pander by converging on the median that is most likely given only the voters'information or be polarized. With respect to welfare, if voters are well informed then they all prefer that their information is unknown to the candidates. However, if voters are not well informed then it is the other way around, all voters prefer that their information is known by the candidates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 2009-06.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:09-06

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Keywords: electoral competition; uncertainty; information; candidate quality;

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References

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  1. : Christian Schultz, . "Polarization and Inefficient Policies," Discussion Papers 93-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. Mariano Tommasi, 1995. "Why Does it Take a Nixon to go to China?," UCLA Economics Working Papers 728, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Enriqueta Aragonés & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Mixed equilibrium in a Downsian model with a favored candidate," Economics Working Papers 502, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. Kyle Bagwell & Garey Ramey, 1989. "Oligopoly Limit Pricing," Discussion Papers 829, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
  6. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  7. Martinelli, Cesar, 2001. " Elections with Privately Informed Parties and Voters," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 108(1-2), pages 147-67, July.
  8. Ansolabehere, Stephen & Snyder, James M, Jr, 2000. " Valence Politics and Equilibrium in Spatial Election Models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 327-36, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Honryo, Takakazu, 2013. "Signaling Competence in Elections," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 442, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.

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