Corruption scandals, voter information, and accountability

Abstract

We study the effects of the availability of information about corruption scandals on electoral outcomes. The paper uses a novel and rich database with information on corruption scandals that affected Spanish local governments during the period 1996–2009. The database includes information about press coverage of each scandal and also about the intervention of the judiciary as published by the press. This allows us to analyze whether voters react to the amount of information (e.g., number of news) and to information regarding the seriousness of the case (e.g., judicial charges). We find that the incumbent’s vote loss after a corruption scandal can rise to 14% when we consider cases in which the incumbent has been charged with corruption and press coverage has been extensive. However, we find no vote loss at all in cases dismissed or with reports to the courts which did not lead to further judicial intervention. The results suggest that information provided by the press modifies voters’ beliefs regarding the prevalence of corrupt activities and helps them disentangle cases of founded vs. unfounded corruption.


Costas-Pérez, E., Solé-Ollé, A., & Sorribas-Navarro, P. (2012). Corruption scandals, voter information, and accountability. European Journal of Political Economy, 28(4), 469-484.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0176268012000353

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