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Incomplete Political Contracts with Secret Ballots: Reciprocity as a Force to Enforce Sustainable Clientelistic Relationships

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  • Kenju Kamei

    (Durham University Business School)

Abstract

Clientelism is frequently observed in our societies. Various mechanisms that help sustain incomplete political contracts (e.g., monitoring and punishment) have been studied in the literature to date. However, do such contracts emerge in elections with secret ballots when the interactions are one-shot? How does repetition affect the evolution of incomplete political contracts? Using an incentivized experiment, this paper finds that even during one-shot interactions where monitoring is not possible, candidates form incomplete contracts through vote buying and promise-making. The candidates’ clientelistic behaviors are heterogeneous: some target swing voters, whereas others offer the most to loyal voters, or even opposition voters. These tactics distort voting behaviors as well as election outcomes. Repeated interactions significantly magnify candidates’ offers and deepen clientelistic relationships. These results underscore the possibility that clientelism evolves due to people’s strategic behaviors and interdependent preferences, without relying on alternative mechanism

Suggested Citation

  • Kenju Kamei, 2020. "Incomplete Political Contracts with Secret Ballots: Reciprocity as a Force to Enforce Sustainable Clientelistic Relationships," Working Papers 2020_04, Department of Economics, University of Durham.
  • Handle: RePEc:dur:durham:2020_04
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    experiment; cooperation; vote buying; election; clientelism;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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