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Hiding Information in Electoral Competition

  • Paul Heidhues
  • Johan Lagerlöf

We model a two-candidate electoral competition in which there is uncertainty about a policy-relevant state of the world. The candidates receive private signals about the true state, which are imperfectly correlated. We study whether the candidates are able to credibly communicate their information to voters through their choice of policy platforms. Our results show that the fact that private information is dispersed between the candidates creates a strong incentive for them to bias their messages toward the electorate's prior. Information transmission becomes more difficult, the more the information is dispersed between the candidates and the stronger is the electorate's prior. Indeed, as more prior information becomes available, welfare can decrease. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Verheimlichen von Informationen im Wahlkampf) In diesem Beitrag wird ein Wahlkampf zwischen zwei Politikern modelliert, in welchem Unsicherheit über die bessere von zwei Politikalternativen herrscht. Die Kandidaten erhalten private und unvollständig korrelierte Signale darüber, welche Politik für die Wähler besser ist. Der Beitrag untersucht, ob die Kandidaten diese Informationen durch die Auswahl ihrer Wahlkampfplattform glaubwürdig an die Wähler weitergeben können. Die Tatsache, dass die Kandidaten nicht genau dieselben Information haben, führt dazu, dass sie ihre Informationen teilweise oder völlig ignorieren und ihre Wahlkampfplattform in Richtung der a priori Informationen der Wähler ausrichten. Die Weitergabe der Informationen der Politiker wird umso schwieriger desto mehr die Informationen zwischen den Kandidaten verteilt sind und desto besser die Wähler informiert sind. Im Gleichgewicht kann dies sogar dazu führen, dass bessere a priori Informationen der Wähler die Wohlfahrt senken.

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Paper provided by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG) in its series CIG Working Papers with number FS IV 00-06.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2000
Date of revision: Feb 2002
Publication status: Published in Games and Economic Behavior , Vol. 42(1), 2003, pp. 48-74.
Handle: RePEc:wzb:wzebiv:fsiv00-06
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