Vote Buying is a Good Sign!
34 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2014 Last revised: 27 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2014
Over 90 percent of the world’s states currently select their national leaders through multi-party elections. However, in Africa the quality of elections still varies widely, ranging from elections plagued by violence and fraud to elections that are relatively “free and fair”. The literature on election fraud and integrity has identified several factors explaining cross-national variation in overall levels of election integrity. Much less is known about trade offs between different strategies of electoral manipulation and the differences between incumbent and opposition actors’ strategies. Existing research suggest that incumbents engage more in vote buying while opposition engage more in election violence. We theorize that choices for specific types of manipulation are driven by available resources and cost considerations for both incumbents and opposition actors, and are mutually responsive. We also suggest that costs of manipulative strategies are shaped by the level of democratization. We test our hypotheses on time-series-cross-section data for 286 African elections from 1986 to 2012. We find that democratization initially leads to increases in vote buying as “cheap” forms of electoral manipulation available to incumbents such as intimidation and manipulating electoral administration become less viable.
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