Bloc Voting for Electoral Accountability
97 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2022
Date Written: October 8, 2022
How do citizens hold local politicians accountable? I argue that citizens, especially through neighborhood associations, can use bloc voting as a grassroots strategy to pressure local politicians to provide public services. Politicians monitor precinct-level voting, and communities switch their allegiance if politicians do not follow through. I focus on water access, which is an essential and often scarce resource prone to political manipulation. I analyze an original household survey and conjoint experiment with respondents from 120 rural communities merged with precinct-level electoral data in Brazil. Qualitative interviews illustrate theoretical mechanisms. Residents perceive that bloc voting is more likely in communities with high associational activity and responsive leadership. Bloc voting improves water access for association members. However, this strategy is only worthwhile for communities that can demonstrate their vote at their precinct. I shed light on the interaction of collective action and electoral institutions for development and environmental politics.
Keywords: distributive politics, accountability, water politics, Brazil, local politics
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