Electoral Systems and Political Corruption
26 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 1, 2014
This paper argues that the relationship between legislative electoral systems and political corruption is different from what previous studies have contended. It argues that open-list proportional systems promote political corruption more than closed-list proportional and single-member plurality systems because they make campaign finance shortages more pronounced, legislative corruption opportunities more numerous, and the provision of anti-corruption institutions more challenging. Moreover, each of these effects is mediated by institutions that structure policymaking processes, such that legislatures elected by identical systems can differ in the degree to which they enable or frustrate political corruption. This account contrasts with previous research in several respects, especially by emphasizing that electoral system influence depends significantly on what occurs in the legislative arena. The paper provides two empirical studies to support the theory: a regression analysis of corruption across fifty-one democracies and case studies of legislator-involved corruption scandals in three open-list countries (Brazil, Chile, and Finland).
Keywords: electoral systems; corruption
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