Future work

The Downsian electoral competition model is applied to many other topics such as special interest politics, media, authoritarian politics, public policy, and macroeconomics. As this book shows, explicit analyses of electoral platforms induce many predictions that differ from those of previous studies. Therefore, applications of the models presented in this book should be an interesting subject for future research to provide new implications. Moreover, not only the Downsian model but also many other formal models such as the political agency model can be used to analyze electoral platforms.

The other possible area of future research is to endogenize the cost of betrayal. In this book, the cost of betrayal simply depends on the degree of betrayal; however, it may also be decided endogenously. For example, one type of cost of betrayal is a decrease in the probability of winning the next election. To analyze such reputational costs, a dynamic model comprising two or more periods should be analyzed. Moreover, depending on the economic and social situation, the cost of betrayal changes before and after an election. For example, even if a politician promises “no new taxes,” voters may allow politicians to betray their platforms by changing taxes after a natural disaster occurs.

In Chapter 3, the model of partially binding platforms with asymmetric information assumes that candidates are symmetric and that only two types of candidates exist. However, in reality, these characteristics may differ, as shown by the model in Chapter 2. The model in Chapter 3 should also be extended to analyze asymmetric candidates, which may lead to different implications from those in Chapter 2.

This book analyzes the case with two candidates and a onedimensional policy space. It may be able to be extended to analyze the case with multiple candidates and/or a multidimensional policy space. Moreover, the generalization to a continuous policy space in Chapter 4 would be another important extension. If a continuous policy space is supposed, it would also be possible to analyze a more realistic case in which utilities are neither always convex nor always concave.

In the past, formal models of political competition did not analyze electoral promises explicitly even though they are crucial aspects of real elections. This book shows that it is possible to obtain more important implications by analyzing them explicitly. Promising future work in formal political theory should include analyzing electoral platforms explicitly even though this “promise” is non-binding.


  • 1 Some studies show the relationship between the media and the credible commitment of politicians. For example, Reinikka and Svensson (2005) study a newspaper campaign in Uganda aimed at reducing the capture of public funds by providing schools (parents) with information to monitor local officials’ handling of a large education grant program, and they show that it actually reduced corruption. Djakov et al. (2003) empirically show that policymaking is distorted if the media is owned by the government.
  • 2 Cox and McCubbins (1994) and Aldrich (1995) emphasize this point from the historical aspects of American parties. Snyder and Groseclose (2000) and McCarty et al. (2001) empirically show that there are various party disciplines in the US Congress. McGillivray (1997) compares high with low discipline in trade policies.
  • 3 Kartik and McAfee (2007) provide good “character” exogenously and interpret it as integrity. Callander (2008) provides this valence endogenously using policy motivation, whereas a candidate’s policy motivation is given exogenously. In both studies, more extreme policy can be a signal of good valence.
  • 4 Context-dependent voting means that voters are interested not only in the policies of the party in question, but also in the relative attractiveness of the opposition’s policies.
  • 5 On the contrary. Alesina and Cukierman (1990), Jensen and Lee (2017), and Demange and Van der Straeten (2017) define the level of ambiguity as the variance in the noise of the policy outcomes observed by voters.
  • 6 Page (1976) considers that political ambiguity arises when candidates allocate their limited resources (emphasis) among several policies. If candidates do not allocate sufficient resources to a policy, its promise to voters becomes vague. Chappell (1994) and Dellas and Koubi (1994) follow a similar interpretation.
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