The Incumbent's Preference for Imperfect Commitment

Journal article

Publication Details

Author(s): Wrede M
Journal: Public Choice
Publication year: 2019
Volume: 180
Journal issue: 3
Pages range: 285-300
ISSN: 0048-5829
Language: English


Using a model with forward-looking voting strategies, we examine the tax policies of public officials who maximize the weighted average of rents and benefits to their specific electoral clienteles when commitment is possible. We assume that the degree of commitment to a tax policy can be varied through its design and institutional anchoring. At the center of the analysis lies the question of the extent to which public
officials restrict the policy space of future governments. On the one hand, stronger restrictions make it more difficult
for political opponents to enact unwanted policy changes, but, on the other hand, they also reduce the likelihood of reelection. We show that incumbents prefer perfect commitment to the absence of any commitment and that, from the point of view of an incumbent, imperfect commitment can be superior to perfect commitment. Imperfect commitment allows incumbents to raise their reelection chances either by binding themselves and causing the opponent to deviate or binding the opponent and deviating themselves.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Wrede, Matthias Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Volkswirtschaftslehre, insbesondere Sozialpolitik

How to cite

Wrede, M. (2019). The Incumbent's Preference for Imperfect Commitment. Public Choice, 180(3), 285-300.

Wrede, Matthias. "The Incumbent's Preference for Imperfect Commitment." Public Choice 180.3 (2019): 285-300.


Last updated on 2019-04-04 at 06:53