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Competence and ambiguity in electoral competition

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  • Sivan Frenkel

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Abstract

The level of competence that voters attribute to different candidates is an important determinant of election results. In addition, it is observed that some candidates tend to be more ambiguous in their campaigns regarding future plans, while others commit to specific policies. We offer a model where politicians who vary in their level of competence compete by making costly campaign declarations. We show that a separating equilibrium exists in which the ambiguity of a candidate’s campaign declaration reveals her level of competence. The model explains how politicians may use an “issue”-based campaign to create a competent image, and provides an additional explanation for different levels of campaign ambiguity. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Sivan Frenkel, 2014. "Competence and ambiguity in electoral competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 219-234, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:159:y:2014:i:1:p:219-234
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-012-0039-5
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-012-0039-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dhammika Dharmapala, 2002. "Campaign War Chests, Entry Deterrence, and Voter Rationality," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(3), pages 325-350, November.
    2. Callander, Steven & Wilkie, Simon, 2007. "Lies, damned lies, and political campaigns," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 262-286, August.
    3. Potters, Jan & Sloof, Randolph & van Winden, Frans, 1997. "Campaign expenditures, contributions and direct endorsements: The strategic use of information and money to influence voter behavior," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-31, February.
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    8. Kenneth Rogoff & Anne Sibert, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16.
    9. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    10. Banks, Jeffrey S., 1990. "A model of electoral competition with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 309-325, April.
    11. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
    12. Alberto Alesina & Alex Cukierman, 1990. "The Politics of Ambiguity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(4), pages 829-850.
    13. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
    14. Stephen Coate, 2004. "Pareto-Improving Campaign Finance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 628-655, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rothengatter, Marloes, 2016. "Insights in cognitive patterns : Essays on heuristics and identification," Other publications TiSEM 5f812a9d-8968-48b8-8d1b-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    2. Armenak Antinyan & Luca Corazzini & Elena D'Agostino & Filippo Pavesi, 2017. "Watch your Words: an Experimental Study on Communication and the Opportunity Cost of Delegation," Working Papers 18/2017, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:kap:pubcho:v:172:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0459-3 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electoral competition; Competence; Ambiguity; Commitment; D72; D82;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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