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Partially Binding Platforms: Political Promises as a Partial Commitment Device

  • Yasushi Asako

    (Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan (E-mail:

This paper examines the effects of campaign platforms in political competition when campaign platforms are partially binding: a candidate who implements a policy different from his/her platform must pay a cost of betrayal that increases with the size of the discrepancy. With partially binding platforms, the median-voter theorem does not hold, and candidates always implement different policies in equilibrium. If and only if the cost of betrayal goes to infinity for any degree of betrayal, the median-voter theorem holds. Partially binding platforms also can predict who wins. A candidate who is more moderate, less policy-motivated and whose cost of betrayal is higher than the opposition with the same degree of betrayal wins. The degree of honesty can be derived endogenously, and candidates who have the above characteristics are more honest.

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Paper provided by Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan in its series IMES Discussion Paper Series with number 10-E-01.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ime:imedps:10-e-01
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  1. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas. R., 2000. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model With a Favored Candidate," Working Papers 1102, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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  3. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
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  5. Steven Callander, 2008. "Political Motivations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 671-697.
  6. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
  7. Banks, Jeffrey S., 1990. "A model of electoral competition with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 309-325, April.
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