Elements for a Theory of Political Finance

27 Pages Posted: 15 May 2006

See all articles by Alejandro Poiré

Alejandro Poiré

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: April 2006


This paper studies campaign and party finance from the perspective of political ambition. It defines the market for political finance as the set of transactions through which politicians fund the non-governmental activities conducive to the satisfaction of their career ambitions. The market for political funds is characterized by three central postulates: 1. Political finance is motivated primarily by politicians' need to support the necessary activities to effectively compete for office in democratic elections; 2. The demand for political finance is dynamic, in the sense that it is partly dependent on politicians' perception of a given contest's electoral competitiveness; 3. Contributions to parties and candidates are made by citizens who donate their money or other assets out of a combination of 'consumption' or 'expressive' motives, as well as 'investment' or 'self-interested' ones. Based on this characterization of the political finance market, I discuss some of the extant comparative literature on political finance markets, and present an agenda for research.

Keywords: Business and Government Policy, Electoral Politics, Law and Legal Institutions, Political Science, Regulation

Suggested Citation

Poiré, Alejandro, Elements for a Theory of Political Finance (April 2006). KSG Working Paper No. RWP06-014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=832631 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.832631

Alejandro Poiré (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4391 (Phone)

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