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How Indian Voters Respond to Candidates with Criminal Charges: Evidence from the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections


  • Dutta, Bhaskar

    () (University of Warwick)

  • Gupta, Poonam

    () (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy)


This paper examines the response of voters to candidates who have reported that they have criminal charges against them, within the framework of a simple analytical model which assumes that criminal charges give rise to some stigma amongst the electorate, and result in a negative effect on vote shares. Campaigning, the cost of which is borne from candidates' wealth, helps a candidate to increase his or her expected vote share by winning over the "marginal" voter. A criminal candidate gets an additional benefit since he can use the campaigning to convince voters of his innocence, and so reduce the negative effects of the stigma associated with criminal charges. We test the implications of the model using data for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in India, and find support for all the implications of the model. Our empirical results show that voters do penalise candidates with criminal charges; however, this negative effect is reduced if there are other candidates in the constituency with criminal charges; besides, the vote shares are positively related to candidate wealth, with the marginal effect being higher for the candidates with criminal charges.

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  • Dutta, Bhaskar & Gupta, Poonam, 2012. "How Indian Voters Respond to Candidates with Criminal Charges: Evidence from the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections," Working Papers 12/109, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:npf:wpaper:12/109
    Note: Working Paper 109, 2012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aidt, T. & Golden, M. A. & Tiwari, D., 2011. "Incumbents and Criminals in the Indian National Legislature," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1157, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
    3. Matthieu Chemin, 2008. "Do Criminals Politicians Reduce Corruption? Evidence from India," Cahiers de recherche 0825, CIRPEE.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sitakanta Panda, 2012. "Legislator characteristics and legislative outcomes in India," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(4), pages 3401-3416.

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