Opportunistic timing and manipulation in Australian Federal elections

Dharma Lesmono, Elliot Tonkes & Kevin Burrage

European Journal of Operations Research (to appear)

Abstract

In many Parliamentary Systems, election timing is an important decision made by governments in order to maximize their expected remaining life in power. Governments can also introduce policy or economic actions to enhance their popular standing and thus their chance of being re-elected. On the other hand, an oppositions’ natural objective is to gain power, and they will also apply controls through their own policies to reduce the governments’ chance of being re-elected. In this paper we employ a dynamic programming approach to determine the optimal timing for governments and oppositions to best utilize their limited resources. At each decision branch, the optimal control is interpreted as a Nash-Cournot equilibrium of a zero-sum political game which, in certain states, admits mixed strategy solutions. We perform a case study on the Australian Federal Election for House of Representatives.

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