Flip-flopping and Electoral Concerns (pdf)

Politicians who change their mind on a policy issue are often confronted with the accusation of being flip-floppers. However, a changing environment makes policy revisions sometimes necessary. How can we explain the bad reputation from flip-flopping, then?

The present analysis suggests that flip-flopping on a policy issue is detrimental to a politician's reputation because it sends a bad signal on the accuracy of his information.

As a result, electorally concerned politicians can have the incentive to stick to a no longer efficient policy choice in order to avoid the stigma of flip-flopping.

This distorted behaviour is not only damaging in terms of policy welfare, but also in terms of a worse selection of competent politicians through elections.

A single-term limit rule can be welfare improving by disciplining politicians to act in accordance with their information.

At the same time, introducing some noise in voters' observation of the politician's action is always optimal, whereas making voters more informed on what is the right policy can lead to increased distortions.


Signalling Valence in Primary Elections (pdf)

I build a model in which primary elections are used by a political party to select a candidate to challenge an incumbent in a general election. Candidates differ in terms of a privately-observed valence and they have to commit to a policy platform before the primary election. The main and novel result of the paper is to show that primaries enable valent candidates to separate from non-valent ones by choosing more partisan platforms. In other words, primary elections select better candidates at the cost of increased polarization. I also endogenize the choice of holding primaries and find that it can lead to asymmetric equilibria, in which only one political party holds primaries, an outcome which is consistent for example with the cases of several social-democratic parties in Europe.

Giovanni Andreottola,
Feb 5, 2017, 11:25 AM
Giovanni Andreottola,
Nov 21, 2016, 6:11 AM