Abstract

We analyze a model of 'postelection politics', in which (unlike in the more common Downsian models of 'preelection politics') politicians cannot make binding commitments prior to elections. The game begins with an incumbent politician in office, and voters adopt reelection strategies that are contingent on the policies implemented by the incumbent. We generalize previous models of this type by introducing heterogeneity in voters' ideological preferences, and analyze how voters' reelection strategies constrain the policies chosen by a rent-maximizing incumbent. We first show that virtually any policy (and any feasible level of rent for the incumbent) can be sustained in a Nash equilibrium. Then, we derive a 'median voter theorem': the ideal point of the median voter, and the minimum feasible level of rent, are the unique outcomes in any strong Nash equilibrium. We then introduce alternative refinements that are less restrictive. In particular, Ideologically Loyal Coalition-proof equilibrium also leads uniquely to the median outcome.

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