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Corruption and Ideological Voting

  • Diana Burlacu

This article examines the effect of corruption on ideological voting. Linking previous studies of political corruption with theories of ideological voting, it argues that when corruption is high, voters place less importance on ideology when voting than they otherwise would. The reason for this effect is related to voters’ reduced ability to accurately perceive parties’ positions and to their low political efficacy in these contexts. Using data from ninety-seven elections from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, the study shows that in countries with high levels of corruption, voters consider ideology less in their voting decisions, partially because they face difficulties identifying parties’ ideological positions and/or they do not believe parties can implement their electoral programmes. These relationships hold even after controlling for socio-economic and political confounders and for voters’ increased likelihood of abstaining when corruption is high.

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Department of Comparative Politics, Institute of Social Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (email: Support for the initial stages of this research was provided by the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7, through the Marie Curie Initial Training Network ELECDEM (238607). Support for the final stages of this research was provided by the 15 NORFACE partners and the European Commission (ERA-Net Plus funding, grant agreement number 618106) through the HEALTHDOX Project (462-14-070) Data replication sets are available at Online appendices are available at: Due to copyright restrictions, data for corruption is not uploaded on Dataverse, but is available from The International Country Risk Guide (ICRG).

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