Bloc Voting for Electoral Accountability
Forthcoming at American Political Science Review
116 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2022 Last revised: 24 Aug 2023
Date Written: August 23, 2023
How do citizens hold local politicians accountable? I argue that citizens, especially through neighborhood associations, can use bloc voting as a bottom-up, grassroots strategy to pressure politicians for public services. Politicians monitor polling station voting, and communities switch allegiance if politicians do not deliver. I measure the perceived and actual relationships between community characteristics, bloc voting, and water access – an essential resource prone to political manipulation. I analyze an original household survey and conjoint experiment merged with electoral data in rural Brazil, and qualitative interviews illustrate theoretical mechanisms. Bloc voting is more likely in communities with high trust and participation, and bloc voting improves water access for association members. However, this strategy is only worthwhile for communities that can demonstrate their vote at their polling station. In contrast to top-down explanations of bloc voting, I highlight the interaction of collective action and electoral institutions for accountability and public service provision.
Keywords: distributive politics, accountability, collective action, Brazil, local politics
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