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Set them (almost) free. Discretion in electoral campaigns under asymmetric information


  • Vardan, Baghdasaryan
  • Elena, Manzoni


The paper analyses a model of electoral campaigning as a problem of competitive delegation. We model a situation in which there is uncertainty about what the optimal policy should be and about the extent of candidates' bias. While voters know whether the candidate is left or right wing, the bias measures the extremity of the candidate. In this environment discretion may benefit voters as it allows the elected politician to adjust his policies to the state of the world. The paper shows that the optimal set of promises must be a closed interval, whose size is decreasing in the expected bias of the candidate. An example where the set of types is finite shows that an increase in the variability of candidates' types may either increase or decrease the level of discretion granted to politicians.

Suggested Citation

  • Vardan, Baghdasaryan & Elena, Manzoni, 2016. "Set them (almost) free. Discretion in electoral campaigns under asymmetric information," Working Papers 354, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 13 Dec 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:354

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ricardo Alonso & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "Optimal Delegation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 259-293.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Alex Cukierman, 1990. "The Politics of Ambiguity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(4), pages 829-850.
    3. Alonso, Ricardo & Matouschek, Niko, 2008. "Optimal delegation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58665, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Jean-François Laslier, 2006. "Ambiguity in Electoral Competition," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 195-210, May.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:84:y:1990:i:01:p:237-241_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Enriqueta Aragonès & Zvika Neeman, 2000. "Strategic Ambiguity in Electoral Competition," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 12(2), pages 183-204, April.
    7. Adam Meirowitz, 2005. "Informational Party Primaries and Strategic Ambiguity," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 17(1), pages 107-136, January.
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    More about this item


    Electoral campaigns; Ideological bias; Uncertainty;

    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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