Policy Reversal

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Abstract:

We analyze the existence of policy reversal, the phenomenon sometimes observed that a certain policy (say extreme left-wing) is implemented by the "unlikely" (right-wing) party. We formulate a Downsian signaling model where the incumbent government, through its choice of policy, reveals information both regarding own preferences and external circumstances that may call for a particular policy. We show that policy reversal may indeed exist as an equilibrium phenomenon. This is partly because the incumbent party has superior opportunities to reveal information, and partly because its reputation protects a left-wing incumbent when advertising a right-wing policy.

Document Type: Short Communication

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/aer.100.3.1261

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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