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Vote buying and campaign promises

Author

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  • Keefer, Philip
  • Vlaicu, Razvan

Abstract

What explains the wide variation across countries in the use of vote buying and policy promises during election campaigns? We address this question, and account for a number of stylized facts and apparent anomalies regarding vote buying, using a model in which parties cannot fully commit to campaign promises. We find that high vote buying is associated with frequent reneging on campaign promises, strong electoral competition, and high policy rents. Frequent reneging and low party competence reduce campaign promises. If vote buying can be financed out of public resources, incumbents buy more votes and enjoy an electoral advantage, but they also promise more public goods. Vote buying has distributional consequences: voters targeted with vote buying pre-election may receive no government benefits post-election. The results point to obstacles to the democratic transition from clientelist to programmatic forms of electoral competition: parties may not benefit electorally from institutions that increase commitment.

Suggested Citation

  • Keefer, Philip & Vlaicu, Razvan, 2017. "Vote buying and campaign promises," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 773-792.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:4:p:773-792
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2017.07.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Pedro C. Vicente, 2014. "Is Vote Buying Effective? Evidence from a Field Experiment in West Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 356-387, February.
    2. Frederico Finan & Laura Schechter, 2012. "Vote‐Buying and Reciprocity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(2), pages 863-881, March.
    3. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
    4. Hanusch, Marek & Keefer, Philip, 2014. "Younger parties, bigger spenders? Party age and political budget cycles," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 1-18.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:03:p:315-325_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Cesi Cruz & Philip Keefer, 2015. "Political Parties, Clientelism, and Bureaucratic Reform," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 89657, Inter-American Development Bank.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:102:y:2008:i:01:p:19-31_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Razvan Vlaicu, 2008. "Democracy, Credibility, and Clientelism," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 371-406, October.
    9. Robinson, James A. & Torvik, Ragnar, 2005. "White elephants," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 197-210, February.
    10. Cesi Cruz & Philip Keefer, 2015. "Political Parties, Clientelism, and Bureaucratic Reform," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6968, Inter-American Development Bank.
    11. John Morgan & Felix Várdy, 2011. "On the buyability of voting bodies," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 23(2), pages 260-287, April.
    12. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    13. Eddie Dekel & Matthew O. Jackson & Asher Wolinsky, 2008. "Vote Buying: General Elections," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 351-380, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Vote buying; Campaign promises; Rent seeking; Incumbency;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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