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Strategic ambiguity in electoral competition

  • Enriqueta Aragonés
  • Zvika Neeman

Many have observed that political candidates running for election are often purposefully expressing themselves in vague and ambiguous terms. In this paper we provide a simple formal model of this phenomenon. We model the electoral competition between two candidates as a two--stage game. In the first stage of the game two candidates simultaneously choose their ideologies, and in the second stage they simultaneously choose their level of ambiguity. Our results show that ambiguity, although disliked by voters, may be sustained in equilibrium. The introduction of ambiguity as a strategic choice variable for the candidates can also serve to explain why candidates with the same electoral objectives end up ``separating'', that is, assuming different ideological positions.

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File URL: http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/papers/downloads/162.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 162.

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Date of creation: Jan 1994
Date of revision: Apr 1996
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:162
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Myerson Roger B., 1993. "Effectiveness of Electoral Systems for Reducing Government Corruption: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 118-132, January.
  2. 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.
  3. Cukierman, Alex & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "The Politics of Ambiguity," Scholarly Articles 4552530, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. d'Aspremont, C & Gabszewicz, Jean Jaskold & Thisse, J-F, 1979. "On Hotelling's "Stability in Competition"," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1145-50, September.
  5. Richard McKelvey, 1980. "Ambiguity in spatial models of policy formation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 385-402, January.
  6. Palfrey, Thomas R, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 139-56, January.
  7. Rebecca B. Morton & Roger B. Myerson, 1992. "Campaign Spending with Impressionable Voters," Discussion Papers 1023, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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