The Politics of Ambiguity
Politicians have generally two motives: they wish to hold office as long as possible and wish to implement their preferred policies. Thus they face a trade-off between the policies which maximize their choices 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, we show that in general there is incomplete policy convergence: the incumbent follows a policy which is intermediate between the other party ideal policy and his own ideal policy. Second, we show that under some circumstances, the incumbent has an incentive to choose procedures which make it more difficult for voters to pinpoint his preferences with absolute precision. Thus, politicians may prefer to be ambiguous and "hide", at least up to a certain extent, their true preferences. This result holds for a wide range of parameter values and, in some range, even if voters are risk averse.
|Date of creation:||Dec 1987|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 105, no. 4 (1990): 829-850.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Coughlin, Peter & Nitzan, Shmuel, 1981. "Directional and local electoral equilibria with probabilistic voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 226-239, April.
- Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
- Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990.
"Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
- John Ledyard, 1984.
"The pure theory of large two-candidate elections,"
Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
- Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Positive Theory of Discretionary Policy, the Cost of Democratic Government and the Benefits of a Constitution," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(3), pages 367-88, July.
- Alesina, Alberto & Spear, Stephen, 1988.
"An Overlapping Generations Model of Electoral Competition,"
4553015, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Alesina, Alberto & Spear, Stephen E., 1988. "An overlapping generations model of electoral competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 359-379, December.
- Alberto Alesina & Stephen E. Spear, 1987. "An Overlapping Generations Model of Electoral Competition," NBER Working Papers 2354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Cukierman, Alex, 1991. "Asymmetric Information and the Electoral Momentum of Public Opinion Polls," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 70(2), pages 181-213, May.
- Kenneth Rogoff & Anne Sibert, 1988.
"Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16.
- Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-party System as a Repeated Game," Scholarly Articles 4552531, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- McKelvey, Richard D, 1975. "Policy Related Voting and Electoral Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(5-6), pages 815-43, Sept.-Nov.
- Hinich, Melvin J., 1977.
"Equilibrium in spatial voting: The median voter result is an artifact,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 208-219, December.
- Hinich, M., 1976. "Equilibrium in Spatial Voting: The Median Voter Result is an Artifact," Working Papers 119, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Alberto Alesina, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(3), pages 651-678.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2468. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.