Who's in Charge Here? Voter Punishment of Municipal Corruption
30 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2015
Date Written: May 1, 2015
There is a growing consensus that voters withdraw support from a politician when they receive clear information that the politician has engaged in corruption. But do voters punish an elected executive for corrupt acts carried out under his or her watch, even if the executive is not personally implicated in corruption? To answer this question, we present the results of an embedded experiment from a nationally-representative survey in Brazil. Using vignettes that describe a hypothetical mayor, we find that citizens appear willing to punish a mayor who is involved in corruption, but that punishment of the mayor is attenuated if members of the municipal administration, and not the mayor per se, are charged with corruption. The difference is particularly pronounced when corruption information comes from a credible source and among politically sophisticated respondents. Our findings point to the importance of the availability of specific and credible information in facilitating political accountability.
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