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Voting corrupt politicians out of office? Evidence from a survey experiment in Paraguay

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  • Cañete-Straub, Rumilda
  • Miquel-Florensa, Josepa
  • Straub, Stéphane
  • Van der Straeten, Karine

Abstract

This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that giving voters more power – both formally through the use of more “open” electoral systems and informally through easier access to information on politicians’ wrongdoings – will necessarily result in them voting corrupt politicians out of office. Focusing on a comparison between closed-list and open-list proportional representation systems, we theoretically show that opening the lists is likely to generate a large shift of vote shares in favor of the incumbent parties, which in many countries happen to be the most corrupt. We design a survey experiment to test these predictions in Paraguay and find strong supporting evidence. We do not find in our context that the lack of information is a major obstacle preventing voters from voting out corrupt politicians; if anything, under the more open system, supporters of the incumbent party tend to cast more votes for politicians with a recent history of corruption.

Suggested Citation

  • Cañete-Straub, Rumilda & Miquel-Florensa, Josepa & Straub, Stéphane & Van der Straeten, Karine, 2020. "Voting corrupt politicians out of office? Evidence from a survey experiment in Paraguay," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 223-239.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:179:y:2020:i:c:p:223-239
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.08.046
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