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Published March 14, 2016 | Accepted Version
Report Open

Political Reputations and Campaign Promises


We analyze conditions under which candidates' reputations may affect the beliefs of the voters over what policy will be implemented by the winning candidate of an election. We develop a model of repeated elections with complete information in which candidates are purely ideological. We analyze an equilibrium in which voters' strategies involve a credible threat to punish candidates who renege of their campaign promises, and all campaign promises are believed by voters, and honored by candidates. We characterize the maximal credible campaign promises and obtain that the degree to which promises are credible in equilibrium is an increasing function of the value of a candidate's reputation.

Additional Information

July 2006. Added to SSWP Dec. 2006. Acknowledgments: Palfrey and Postlewaite acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation. Aragonès acknowledges financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, grant SEC2003-01961, CREA-Barcelona Economics, and the hospitality of CBRSS at Harvard University. Palfrey thanks the Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica for its hospitality in Spring 2003. This paper is part of the PAC Project CIT-2-CT-2004-506084 funded by the European Commission. We thank Alberto Alesina, Abhijit Banerjee, Orit Kedar, Steve Matthews, and participants of the Workshop on Positive Political Economy at CBRSS (Harvard University). We also thank Roberto Perotti and three referees for helpful comments that improved this paper.

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