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Electoral ambiguity and political representation

Kartik, Navin, Van Weelden, Richard and Wolton, Stephane ORCID: 0000-0003-1405-650X (2017) Electoral ambiguity and political representation. American Journal of Political Science, 61 (4). 958 - 970. ISSN 0092-5853

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ajps.12310


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 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 essential for achieving beneficial representation. Nevertheless, electoral competition does not ensure optimal representation: the winning candidate’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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Midwest Political Science Association
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2017 16:19
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2023 21:54

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