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Strategic ambiguity in electoral competition

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  • Enriqueta Aragonés
  • Zvika Neeman

Abstract

Many have observed that political candidates running for election are often purposefully expressing themselves in vague and ambiguous terms. In this paper we provide a simple formal model of this phenomenon. We model the electoral competition between two candidates as a two--stage game. In the first stage of the game two candidates simultaneously choose their ideologies, and in the second stage they simultaneously choose their level of ambiguity. Our results show that ambiguity, although disliked by voters, may be sustained in equilibrium. The introduction of ambiguity as a strategic choice variable for the candidates can also serve to explain why candidates with the same electoral objectives end up ``separating'', that is, assuming different ideological positions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 162.

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Date of creation: Jan 1994
Date of revision: Apr 1996
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:162

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

Related research

Keywords: Ambiguous platforms; ideological differentiation;

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References

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  1. d'ASPREMONT, Claude & GABSZEWICZ, Jean J. & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "On Hotelling's "Stability in competition"," CORE Discussion Papers RP -385, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Richard McKelvey, 1980. "Ambiguity in spatial models of policy formation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 385-402, January.
  3. Rebecca B. Morton & Roger B. Myerson, 1992. "Campaign Spending with Impressionable Voters," Discussion Papers 1023, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Alex Cukierman, 1987. "The Politics of Ambiguity," NBER Working Papers 2468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hinich, M., 1976. "Equilibrium in Spatial Voting: The Median Voter Result is an Artifact," Working Papers 119, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. Myerson Roger B., 1993. "Effectiveness of Electoral Systems for Reducing Government Corruption: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 118-132, January.
  7. Palfrey, Thomas R, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 139-56, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Helios Herrera & David K Levine & Cesar Martinelli, 2007. "Policy Platforms, Campaign Spending and Voter Participation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000935, David K. Levine.
  2. Thomas Jensen, 2009. "Projection effects and strategic ambiguity in electoral competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(1), pages 213-232, October.
  3. James E. Anderson & Maurizio Zanardi, 2004. "Political Pressure Deflection," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 594, Boston College Department of Economics.
  4. Jean-François Laslier, 2003. "Ambiguity in electoral competition," Working Papers hal-00242944, HAL.
  5. Thomas Jensen, 2005. "Can Ambiguity in Electoral Competition be Explained by Projection Effects in Voters' Perceptions?," Discussion Papers 05-25, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  6. Torun Dewan & David P. Myatt, 2007. "The Qualities of Leadership:Direction, Communication, and Obfuscation," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 24, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  7. Adam Meirowitz, 2005. "Keeping the other candidate guessing: Electoral competition when preferences are private information," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 299-318, March.
  8. Agustín Casas, 2013. "Partisan politics : parties, primaries and elections," Economics Working Papers we1315, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  9. Enriqueta Aragonés & Andrew Postlewaite, 1999. "Ambiguity in election games," Economics Working Papers 364, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  10. Guido, Cataife, 2007. "The pronouncements of paranoid politicians," MPRA Paper 4473, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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