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Working Papers

July 2005, No. 05-4R

A Theory of Political Cycles (Revised: Dec. 2008)

Leonardo Martinez

We study how the proximity of elections affects policy choices in a model in which policymakers want to improve their reputation to increase their reelection chances. Policymakers' equilibrium decisions depend on both their reputation and the proximity of the next election. Typically, incentives to influence election results are stronger closer to the election (for a given reputation level), as argued in the political cycles literature, and these political cycles are less important when the policymaker's reputation is better. Our analysis sheds light on other agency relationships in which part of the compensation is decided upon infrequently.

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