Electoral Ambiguity and Political Representation

40 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2015

See all articles by Navin Kartik

Navin Kartik

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics

Richard Van Weelden

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Stephane Wolton

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government

Date Written: October 28, 2015

Abstract

We introduce a Downsian model in which policy-relevant information is revealed to the elected politician after the election. The electorate benefits from giving the elected politician some discretion to adapt policies to his information. But limits on discretion are desirable when politicians do not share the electorate's policy preferences. Optimal political representation generally consists of a mixture of the delegate (no discretion) and trustee (full discretion) models. Ambiguous electoral platforms are central to achieving beneficial representation. Nevertheless, electoral competition does not ensure optimal representation: the elected politician's platform is generally overly ambiguous. While our theory rationalizes a positive correlation between ambiguity and electoral success, it shows that the relationship need not be causal.

Keywords: Electoral ambiguity, Political Representation, Divergence, Close Elections

JEL Classification: D72, D78, D83

Suggested Citation

Kartik, Navin and Van Weelden, Richard and Wolton, Stephane, Electoral Ambiguity and Political Representation (October 28, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2682691 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2682691

Navin Kartik

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.Columbia.edu/~nk2339

Richard Van Weelden

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Stephane Wolton (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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