The Politics of Ambiguity
Politicians face a trade-off between the policies that maximize their chances of reelection and their most preferred policies (or the policies most preferred by the constituency which they represent). This paper analyzes this trade-off in a dynamic electoral model in which the voters are not fully informed about the preferences of the incumbent. First, the authors show that the incumbent follows a policy that is intermediate between the other party's ideal policy and his own ideal policy. Second, the authors show that the incumbent often has an incentive to choose procedures that make it difficult for voters to pinpoint his preferences with absolute precision. Thus, politicians may prefer to be "ambiguous." Copyright 1990, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Volume (Year): 105 (1990)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
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