Spanish Economic Review

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 227–241

Promising politicians, rational voters, and election outcomes


    • Department of EconomicsUniversity of Groningen

DOI: 10.1007/s10108-004-0083-5

Cite this article as:
Haan, M.A. Spanish Economic Review (2004) 6: 227. doi:10.1007/s10108-004-0083-5


Overwhelming anecdotal evidence suggests that politicians often promise more during an election campaign than they are willing or able to deliver once elected. In this paper, we present two signaling models to explain this phenomenon. In the first model, two candidates maximize their share of the vote. In the second model both try to convince the median voter. In each model, candidates rationally distort their true policy position. Voters, however, are not fooled. Upon observing election promises, they can rationally infer the true position of each candidate. Hence, the election outcome is not affected.


Political competitionsignalling modelselection promises

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2004