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Applications

The model of partially binding platforms can be applied to some other topics as follows.

Maturity of democracy

The value of Я is decided by many factors. For example, when the freedom of the press is curtailed, Я is low because the media will not report politicians’ betrayals. When a large special interest group supports politicians, the politicians are assured of a large number of votes in an election, and the probability of their losing the next election is quite low. Therefore, in this case, the candidate is less concerned about the cost of betrayal. If a party or the parliament is lacking in power, Я is low because these institutions are less able to enforce discipline.

In other words, Я can be interpreted as the level of a democracy’s maturity. Some political scientists and economists indicate that politicians in mature democracies have a greater ability to make binding platforms. For example, in immature democracies, politicians have strong relationships with specific groups of voters.6 If the democracy is mature, it supports freedom of the press and government transparency. In addition, strong parties monitor politicians, who therefore do not betray their platforms as often or as easily.' Thus, the value of Я is higher in mature democracies and lower in immature democracies.

In fact, using cross-country data, Keefer (2007) shows the differences between younger and older democracies, which tend to arise from the inability of younger democracies to offer credible platforms to voters.

According to Proposition 2.8, when the maturity of a democracy increases, the policies to be implemented converge to x,„, and politicians do not often renege on their platforms. In an immature democracy, the divergence in policies to be implemented is large, and politicians tend to betray their platforms quite severely.

Endogenous cost of betrayal

The candidate may make decisions that affect the value of Я. For example, sometimes he/she decides to influence the media. If the candidate is able to control the media, the cost of betrayal, Я, decreases, and he/she can betray the platform more easily. This seems favorable to candidates, although they usually support freedom of the press, even when the media criticize them.

There is another case. In Japan, since 2003, the Democratic Party of Japan has issued manifestos. In a manifesto, the party records its platform, allowing voters and the media to compare it to the policy implemented after the election. Before 2003, candidates and parties revealed their platforms in speeches, campaign posters, and discussions with the media, but there were no official written records of their platforms. Thus, after 2003, it became easier to check whether the governing party betrayed its platforms. For parties, the publication of a manifesto increases the cost of betrayal, which seems detrimental to their interests. However, other parties also began issuing manifestos from 2003 onward (Kanai, 2003).

One reason is that a higher Я means a higher probability of winning. Moreover, as the expected utility from winning is not lower than the expected utility from losing (Corollary 2.11), if candidates can change Я, they will choose a value that is as high as possible in equilibrium. Sometimes, politicians prefer to use explicit and impressive words, promising, for example, to “end welfare as we know it.” Such words are easy to remember, and hence, increase the value of Я.

Seniority of candidates

Older (or more senior) politicians may have a lower value of Я. They tend to be less concerned about the next election or their party’s discipline because they may retire before the next election. In such a case, the value of Я could be asymmetric. According to my model with asymmetric candidates, if a candidate is older, he/she will betray the platform more severely, and hence, the probability of winning decreases. This is one type of the “last-term problem.”8

However, at the same time, political motivation may also differ depending on seniority. Younger politicians may care more about policy (and have a higher p) than older politicians, as many of these policies are likely to impact the younger candidate’s future political career.

Suppose R is more policy motivated but has a higher relative importance of betrayal, that is, pL < pR and XL < XR (and xR - xm = xm - xp. According to my interpretation, R is younger (or less senior) than L. From the numerical example, if

L wins with certainty. As Pl < Pr, the left-hand side of (2.5) is positive. If XL / XR > pL / pR, L still wins with certainty as the right-hand side of (2.5) is non-positive. However, it is not obvious if XL / XR < pL / pR. In this case, if b is sufficiently high, L wins with certainty, but if b is sufficiently low, R wins with certainty because, if b is sufficiently large, the difference in A is not so critical. One possible interpretation of b is related to politicians’ wages. Thus, the above implication suggests that a higher wage induces older (or more senior) politicians to win, while a lower wage induces younger (or less senior) politicians to win. For instance, by using the data on Brazil’s municipal government, Ferraz and Finan (2011) show that a higher pay induces senior politicians to win.

Similarly, the model of partially binding platforms can show and analyze asymmetric electoral outcomes for candidates with different characteristics and is applicable in cases other than the above topics as well.

 
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