Fourteen Ways to Credibly Escape a Credible Commitment (and Still Get Re-Elected)

Part of the International Studies in Economics and Econometrics book series (ISEE, volume 28)


The application of economic theory to political processes requires that it makes sense to conceive of these processes in terms of exchange. In the electoral process, politicians make promises to citizens or interest groups in exchange for votes or other forms of political support. However, in political life, as in many other forms of non-market exchange, the problem arises that there is no third party enforcement mechanism, analogous to legally enforceable property rights, which prevents the parties from cheating one another. If a politician promises a policy in order to win votes, and then, once elected, reneges on that promise, the citizenry cannot seek legal redress from this violation. All they can (implicitly) threaten to do is withdraw their support at the next election. Moreover, politicians and citizens can be presumed to be aware of this fact. How, then, can politicians get citizens to believe their promises or, in current jargon, how can they make credible commitments to citizens?


Public Choice Political Party Median Voter American Political Science Review Credible Commitment 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

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