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Democracy's Achilles Heel or, How to Win an Election without Really Trying

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  • Paul Collier
  • Anke Hoeffler
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    Abstract

    In this paper we investigate the efficacy of illicit electoral tactics and the characteristics which make a society prone to such tactics.� We first investigate the chances of an incumbent head of government winning an election.� We find that in those elections in which illicit tactics were prevalent the chances of incumbent victory increase substantially, more than doubling the expected duration in office.� Further, illicit tactics sharply reduce the importance of good economic performance for survival in office.� We then investigate what makes a society prone to illicit electoral tactics.� Both structural conditions and institutions matter.� Societies that are small, low-income, and resource-rich have little chance of a clean election unless these conditions are offset by checks and balances such as veto points and a free press.� Aid has offsetting effects, the net effect being modest.� We show that these results are robust to different measures of the conduct of elections and to fixed effects.� Finally, we revisit the Jones-Olken result that individual leaders matter for economic performance and find that it holds only where leaders are not disciplined by well-conducted elections.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number CSAE WPS/2009-08.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jul 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:csae-wps/2009-08

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    1. Robinson, James A. & Torvik, Ragnar & Verdier, Thierry, 2006. "Political foundations of the resource curse," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 447-468, April.
    2. Lisa Chauvet & Paul Collier, 2009. "Elections and economic policy in developing countries," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 24, pages 509-550, 07.
    3. Tavares, Jose, 2003. "Does foreign aid corrupt?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 99-106, April.
    4. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does the World Economy Swing National Elections?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(2), pages 163-181, 04.
    5. Campbell, James E. & Lewis-Beck, Michael S., 2008. "US presidential election forecasting: An introduction," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 189-192.
    6. Beck, T.H.L. & Clarke, G. & Groff, A. & Keefer , P. & Walsh, P., 2001. "New tools in comparative political economy: The database of political institutions," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125517, Tilburg University.
    7. Sidman, Andrew H. & Mak, Maxwell & Lebo, Matthew J., 2008. "Forecasting non-incumbent presidential elections: Lessons learned from the 2000 election," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 237-258.
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