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Punching above One's Weight: The Case against Election Campaigns

Author

Listed:
  • Marco A. Haan

    (University of Groningen)

  • Bart Los

    (University of Groningen)

  • Sander Onderstal

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Yohanes E. Riyanto

    (Nanyang Technological University Singapore)

Abstract

Politicians differ in their ability to implement some policy. In an election, candidates make commitments regarding the plans they will try to implement if elected. These serve as a signal of true ability. In equilibrium, candidates make overambitious promises. The candidate with the highest ability wins. Yet, the electorate may be better off having a random candidate implement her best plan, rather than seeing the winner implementing an overambitious plan. This is more likely if the ability distribution is skewed toward high values, the number of candidates is high, with private benefits from being elected, or if parties select candidates.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco A. Haan & Bart Los & Sander Onderstal & Yohanes E. Riyanto, 2010. "Punching above One's Weight: The Case against Election Campaigns," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-056/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20100056
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    File URL: https://papers.tinbergen.nl/10056.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Haan, Marco & Volkerink, Bjorn, 2001. "A runoff system restores the principle of minimum differentiation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 157-162, March.
    2. Marco Haan, 2004. "Promising politicians, rational voters, and election outcomes," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 227-241, October.
    3. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    4. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2005. "A Drawback Of Electoral Competition," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1318-1348, December.
    5. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    6. Banks, Jeffrey S., 1990. "A model of electoral competition with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 309-325, April.
    7. Haan, Marco A. & Los, Bart & Riyanto, Yohanes E., 2007. "Harmful monitoring," Research Report 07003, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    election promises; signalling;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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