Discussion Paper Series 2010-E-7

Partially Binding Platforms and the Advantages of Being an Extreme Candidate

Yasushi Asako

This paper develops a political-competition model in which platforms are partially binding: a candidate who implements a policy that is different from her platform must pay a cost of betrayal that increases with the size of the discrepancy. I also suppose that voters are uncertain about candidate preferences for policies. If voters believe that a candidate is likely to be extreme, there exists a semiseparating equilibrium: an extreme candidate mimics a moderate candidate with some probability, and with the remaining probability, he announces a platform that commits to the implementation of a more moderate policy. Although an extreme candidate will implement a more extreme policy than a moderate candidate in equilibrium, partial pooling ensures that voters prefer an extreme candidate who does not pretend to be moderate over an uncertain candidate announcing a moderate candidate's platform. As a result, a moderate candidate never has a higher probability of winning than an extreme one.

Keywords: Electoral Competition; Campaign Promise; Signaling Game

Views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bank of Japan or Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies.

Copyright © 2010 Bank of Japan All Rights Reserved.

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