This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that giving voters more power – both formally through the use of more “open” electoral systems and informally through easier access to information on politicians’ wrongdoings – will necessarily result in them voting corrupt politicians out of office. Focusing on a comparison between closed-list and open-list proportional representation systems, we theoretically show that opening the lists is likely to generate a large shift of vote shares in favor of the incumbent parties, which in many countries happen to be the most corrupt. We design a survey experiment to test these predictions in Paraguay and find strong supporting evidence. We do not find in our context that the lack of information is a major obstacle preventing voters from voting out corrupt politicians; if anything, under the more open system, supporters of the incumbent party tend to cast more votes for politicians with a recent history of corruption.
Corruption; Electoral systems; Information;
Rumilda Cañete, Josepa Miquel-Florensa, Stéphane Straub, and Karine Van Der Straeten, “Voting Corrupt Politicians Out of Office? Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Paraguay”, TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1063, January 2020, revised January 27, 2021.
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol. 179, November 2020, pp. 223–239