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CHALLENGING IMPUNITY: ELECTORAL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CORRUPTION IN LATIN AMERICA

Vera Rojas, Sofia (2019) CHALLENGING IMPUNITY: ELECTORAL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CORRUPTION IN LATIN AMERICA. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Under what conditions do voters hold leaders accountable for corruption? This dissertation argues that the clarity of electoral alternatives influences the capacity of voters to penalize corrupt politicians. The key proposition is that while citizens are ready to punish corruption, the electoral toll for a corrupt record would be reduced when voters live in districts of unclear electoral choices. Traditional approximations to the question of why corrupt politicians win elections focus on the limited availability of information or on voter biases toward partisan candidates. However, democracies in Latin America have improved in terms of the strength and independence of monitoring institutions in charge of detecting and reporting officials’ corrupt behavior. Moreover, rates of partisanship in Latin America tend to be low and partisan attachments are fluid. Given these underlying factors, existing theoretical approaches are insufficient to explain the electoral survival of corrupt leaders. This dissertation aims to fill this gap by systematically examining voting attitudes toward allegedly corrupt and honest politicians in Colombia and Peru, both developing democracies with historical problems of weak rule of law that have undergone processes of party system deinstitutionalization. Contrary to predominant scholarly debates that highlight the deficiencies of electoral accountability, this dissertation finds first that voters in Colombia and Peru are, in fact, willing to punish candidates for congress who are believed to have engaged in corruption-related activities during prior public office service, and that competence in public works provision does not serve candidates as a stable safeguard against penalties for corruption. Furthermore, this dissertation calls into question the notion that tolerance of corruption in citizens’ daily lives readily translates to electoral decisions about corruption, by showing that voters are willing to penalize corrupt politicians even where political malfeasance is prevalent. Finally, this dissertation shows that robust party competition contributes to electoral accountability because stable and competitive parties facilitate clear electoral choices. Penalties for corruption vary as a function of the clarity of the choices available to voters in making prospective decisions. In conclusion, electoral accountability for corruption is resilient, and robust party competition contributes to accountability by shaping the electoral choices available voters.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Vera Rojas, Sofiasbv2@pitt.edusbv20000-0003-4347-3302
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairMorgenstern, Scottsmorgens@pitt.edu
Committee MemberFinkel, Stevefinkel@pitt.edu
Committee MemberShineman, Victoriashineman@pitt.edu
Committee CoChairPerez-Linan, Anibalaperezl1@nd.edu
Committee MemberLevitsky, Stevenlevitsky@gov.harvard.edu
Date: 21 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 March 2019
Approval Date: 21 June 2019
Submission Date: 1 April 2019
Access Restriction: 4 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 4 years.
Number of Pages: 228
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: corruption, accountability, democracy, elections, parties, party systems, democracy, Latin America
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2019 16:12
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2019 16:12
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/36927

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