Electoral Incentives for Political Corruption under Open-List Proportional Representation

Authors

  • Eric C. C. Chang

    Corresponding author
    1. Michigan State University
      Eric C. C. Chang (echang@msu.edu) is assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1032.
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Eric C. C. Chang (echang@msu.edu) is assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1032.

Abstract

Despite the considerable attention paid to the aggregate-level determinants of political corruption, until recently little empirical work has attempted to understand what systematic factors drive individual politicians to corruption. To reduce this gap, this paper hypothesizes that under open-list proportional representation in which personal votes are expensive yet critical for politicians to win election, politicians’ electoral uncertainty regarding their chances of winning election drives them to corruption in order to finance campaigns. The hypothesis, running against the conventional view that suggests an anticorruption effect of electoral uncertainty, receives substantial empirical support by individual-level data from pre-1994 Italy.

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