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Is Vote Buying Effective? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in West Africa

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  • Pedro C. Vicente

Abstract

Vote buying is a frequent practice during election time in many parts of the world. But no research has been done to quantify its effects on voters` electoral behavior. To address this challenge, we have designed and conducted a randomized experiment during the presidential elections of July 2006 in Sao Tome and Principe. This is a newly found oil-rich West African country that has been facing an increase in `retail` vote buying. Our research design included a randomized campaign against vote buying sponsored by the Electoral Commission of the country, and pre-electoral campaign/post-election panel surveys in treatment (exposed to the campaign) and control locations, including 1034 subjects across 50 different areas. We observe a significant effect of the campaign on perceptions of vote buying, which constitutes the exogenous variation we use to identify effects on voting behavior. We characterize determinants of vote buying (more frequent in swing and rural locations), and find that vote buying energizes the electorate by increasing turnout. Crucially, we capture real effects on candidates` relative performance, by identifying the challenger to be driving more votes through vote buying (after the treatment), which is consistent with the timeline of events (late challenger candidacy). This result controls for changes in information about the candidates (e.g. policy platforms) and location-specific minutes spent by international electoral observers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 318.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:318

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Keywords: Vote buying; Electoral politics; Political economy; Randomized experiment; West Africa;

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Cited by:
  1. Andrés Cendales, 2012. "Vote Buying, Political Patronage and Selective Plunder," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 49(2), pages 237-276, November.
  2. Gianmarco León, 2013. "Turnout, political preferences and information: Experimental evidence from Perú," Economics Working Papers 1364, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Paul Collier & Lisa Chauvet, 2008. "Elections and Economic Policy in Developing Countries," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2008-34, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Gine, Xavier & Mansuri, Ghazala, 2011. "Together we will : experimental evidence on female voting behavior in Pakistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5692, The World Bank.
  5. Chad Kendall & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Trebbi, 2013. "How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign," NBER Working Papers 18986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Isaksson, Ann-Sofie, 2010. "Political participation in Africa: Participatory inequalities and the role of resources," Working Papers in Economics 462, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 01 Oct 2010.
  7. Julien Labonne, 2012. "The local electoral impacts of conditional cash transfers Evidence from a field experiment," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-09, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Dercon, Stefan & Gutiérrez-Romero, Roxana, 2012. "Triggers and Characteristics of the 2007 Kenyan Electoral Violence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 731-744.
  9. Frederico Finan & Laura Schechter, 2009. "Vote-Buying and Reciprocity," Working Papers id:1882, eSocialSciences.
  10. Isaksson, Ann-Sofie & Kotsadam, Andreas & Nerman, Måns, 2012. "The Gender Gap in African Political Participation: Individual and contextual determinants," Working Papers in Economics 530, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

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