Competence and Ambiguity in Electoral Competition

28 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2013 Last revised: 23 Mar 2014

See all articles by Sivan Frenkel

Sivan Frenkel

Tel Aviv University - Coller School of Management

Date Written: December 5, 2012


The level of competence that voters attribute to different candidates is an important determinant of election results. In addition, it is observed that some candidates tend to be more ambiguous in their campaigns regarding future plans, while others commit to specific policies. We offer a model where politicians who vary in their level of competence compete by making costly campaign declarations. We show that a separating equilibrium exists in which the ambiguity of a candidate's campaign declaration reveals her level of competence. The model explains how politicians may use an “issue”-based campaign to create a competent image, and provides an additional explanation for different levels of campaign ambiguity.

Keywords: electoral competition, competence, ambiguity, commitment

JEL Classification: D72, D82

Suggested Citation

Frenkel, Sivan, Competence and Ambiguity in Electoral Competition (December 5, 2012). Public Choice, April 2014, Volume 159, Issue 1-2, pp 219-234., Available at SSRN:

Sivan Frenkel (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Coller School of Management ( email )

Tel Aviv

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