Electoral Ambiguity and Political Representation
40 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 28, 2015
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: Suggested Citation