Institutions of Electoral Integrity and Clientelism: The Role of Electoral Management Bodies
49 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 22, 2020
While clientelism is most often viewed as a symptom of traditional politics, empirical evidence suggests that it is actually a varied and multifaceted phenomenon, found in widely differing economic, political, and cultural contexts. As a result, our understanding of how formal institutions affect clientelism remains limited. This article integrates research on clientelism and electoral integrity, arguing that as the capacity of electoral management bodies (EMBs) increases, the costs of clientelism increase for voters, parties, and candidates. As a result of this increasing cost, we anticipate that declines in the supply of clientelism are associated with advances in EMB capacity, all else equal. This theory is tested using V-Dem data, covering more than 160 countries from 1900 to 2016, as well as several alternative measures of both EMB capacity and clientelism as vote buying. This multifaceted empirical approach finds strong support for the theory that EMB capacity decreases the supply of clientelism at the country-level.
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