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Sunlight disinfects? Free media in weak democracies

Author

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  • Leopoldo Fergusson

    ()

  • Juan F. Vargas

    ()

  • Mauricio A. Vela

    ()

Abstract

Abstract:Free media may not favor political accountability when other democratic institutions are weak,and may even bring undesirable unintended consequences. We propose a simple model in whichpoliticians running for office may engage in coercion to obtain votes. A media scandal thatexposes these candidates increases their coercion eff ort to o ffset the negative popularity shock.This may result in the tainted politicians actually increasing their vote share. We provideempirical evidence from one recent episode in the political history of Colombia, the `parapolitics' scandal featuring politicians colluding with illegal armed paramilitary groups to obtain votes. We show that colluding candidates not only get more votes than their clean competitors, but also concentrate them in areas where coercion is more likely (namely, areas with more paramilitary presence, less state presence, and more judicial inefficiency). Harder to reconcile with other explanations and as a direct test of the eff ects of media exposure, we compare tainted candidates exposed before elections to those exposed after. We fi nd that those exposed before elections get as many votes as those exposed once elected, but their electoral support is more strongly concentrated in places where coercion is more likely. Our results highlight the complementarity between diff erent dimensions of democratic institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Leopoldo Fergusson & Juan F. Vargas & Mauricio A. Vela, 2013. "Sunlight disinfects? Free media in weak democracies," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 010484, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000092:010484
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Economía (y Psicología) de la Productividad Laboral y los Subsidios al Desempleo
      by Juan F Vargas in Foco Económico on 2014-04-16 02:00:45

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 80-93.
    2. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Konstantin Sonin, 2018. "Social Media and Corruption," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 150-174, January.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron & De Feo, Giuseppe & De Luca, Giacomo, 2017. "Weak States: Causes and Consequences of the Sicilian Mafia," CEPR Discussion Papers 12530, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Cortés, Darwin & Santamaría, Julieth & Vargas, Juan F., 2016. "Economic shocks and crime: Evidence from the crash of Ponzi schemes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 263-275.
    5. Dario José Salcedo Monroy, 2015. "Local Media: Expansion of Radio and Political Accountability. Evidence from Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 012566, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    6. Horacio A. Larreguy & John Marshall & James M. Snyder, Jr., 2016. "Leveling the Playing Field: How Campaign Advertising Can Help Non-Dominant Parties," NBER Working Papers 22949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. repec:tiu:tiucen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Leopoldo Fergusson, 2017. "Who wants violence? The political economy of conflict and state building in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015890, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    9. repec:dgr:kubcen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Leopoldo Fergusson & Pablo Querubín & Nelson A. Ruiz & Juan F. Vargas, 2017. "The Real Winner's Curse," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015279, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:112:y:2018:i:04:p:996-1015_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Leopoldo Fergusson & Carlos Molina & James A. Robinson & Juan F. Vargas, 2017. "The Long Shadow of the Past: Political Economy of Regional Inequality in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015445, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    13. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 80-93.
    14. Carreri, Maria & Dube, Oeindrila, 2016. "Do Natural Resources Influence Who Comes to Power, and How?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11136, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Vargas, Juan & Villaveces, Marta-Juanita, 2016. "Rural Property Tax Revenue in the Face of Economic Concentration and Political Competition: Evidence from Colombia," Research Department working papers 945, CAF Development Bank Of Latinamerica.
    16. Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "The political economy of news media: theory, evidence and open issues," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 13, pages 278-320 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Media; Democracy; Elections; Colombia; Civil Conflict; Coercion.;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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