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Candidates, Credibility, and Re-election Incentives

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  • Richard Van Weelden

Abstract

I study elections between citizen-candidates who cannot make binding policy commitments before taking office, but who are accountable to voters due to the possibility of re-election. In each period a representative voter chooses among heterogeneous candidates with known policy preferences. The elected candidate chooses the policy to implement, and how much rent-seeking to engage in, when in office. As the voter decides both which candidate to elect and, subsequently, whether the candidate is retained, this framework integrates elements of electoral competition and electoral accountability. I show that, in the best stationary equilibrium, when utility functions are concave over policy, non-median candidates are elected over candidates with policy preferences more closely aligned with the voter. In this equilibrium, there are two candidates who are elected at some history, and the policies these candidates implement in office do not converge. This divergence incentivizes candidates to engage in less rent-seeking, increasing voter welfare. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Van Weelden, 2013. "Candidates, Credibility, and Re-election Incentives," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1622-1651.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:80:y:2013:i:4:p:1622-1651
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdt014
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    Cited by:

    1. Bowen, T. Renee & Chen, Ying & Eraslan, Hülya & Zápal, Jan, 2017. "Efficiency of flexible budgetary institutions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 148-176.
    2. Richard Weelden, 2015. "The welfare implications of electoral polarization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 45(4), pages 653-686, December.
    3. Javier Rivas, 2016. "Private agenda and re-election incentives," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 46(4), pages 899-915, April.
    4. Federico Quaresima & Fabio Fiorillo, 2016. "The Economics of Politics: Patronage and Political Selection in Italy," CESifo Working Paper Series 6233, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. César Martinelli & John Duggan, 2014. "The Political Economy of Dynamic Elections: A Survey and Some New Results," Working Papers 1403, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    6. Jon X. Eguia & Francesco Giovannoni, 2018. "Tactical Extremism," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 18/701, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    7. repec:spr:sochwe:v:50:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1098-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Câmara, Odilon & Bernhardt, Dan, 2015. "Learning about challengers," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 181-206.
    9. Marina Dodlova & Galina Zudenkova, 2016. "Incumbents' Performance and Political Polarization," CESifo Working Paper Series 5728, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Buehler, Benno & Kessler, Anke, 2010. "Ideologues: Explaining Partisanship and Persistence in Politics (and Elsewhere)," CEPR Discussion Papers 7724, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Forand, Jean Guillaume, 2014. "Two-party competition with persistent policies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 64-91.
    12. Rune Sørensen, 2014. "Political competition, party polarization, and government performance," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(3), pages 427-450, December.
    13. Grillo, Edoardo, 2016. "The hidden cost of raising voters’ expectations: Reference dependence and politicians’ credibility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 126-143.

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