Vote Buying and Campaign Promises
41 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2016 Last revised: 3 Jul 2017
Date Written: June 2017
What explains the wide variation across countries in the use of vote buying and policy promises during election campaigns? We address this question, and account for a number of stylized facts and apparent anomalies regarding vote buying, using a model in which parties cannot fully commit to campaign promises. We find that high vote buying is associated with frequent reneging on campaign promises, strong electoral competition, and high policy rents. Frequent reneging and low party competence reduce campaign promises. If vote buying can be financed out of public resources, incumbents buy more votes and enjoy an electoral advantage, but they also promise more public goods. Vote buying has distributional consequences: voters targeted with vote buying pre-election may receive no government benefits post-election. The results point to obstacles to the democratic transition from clientelist to programmatic forms of electoral competition as parties may not benefit electorally from institutions that increase commitment.
Keywords: vote buying, campaign promises, credibility, rent seeking, incumbency
JEL Classification: D72, H20, H50, O10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation