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Social Networks and Illegal Electoral Strategies /


Elections in consolidating democracies are often undermined by illegal electoral strategies such as vote buying and electoral violence. Previous research has focused on the mechanisms of political exchange and the systemic factors that contribute to vote buying or violence. By contrast, this dissertation addresses the broader questions of how politicians choose among different electoral strategies, how they target voters, and the implications for accountability and economic development. Among politicians, the structure of their social networks affects their choice of electoral strategy. In particular, vertical connections among politicians (such as ties among governors, mayors, and congressmen) facilitates individually targeted policies because the overlapping constituencies encourages collusion to target the same voters. By contrast, horizontal connections among politicians (such as ties among mayors of different towns) promote cooperation and information sharing, making group-targeted strategies such as pork barrel funding more attractive. Among voters, their position within village social networks determine whether they are targeted for illegal electoral strategies. Individuals with more social ties are disproportionately targeted for vote buying, while individuals with politically-relevant ties are targeted for electoral violence and intimidation. Understanding the politician and voter social network determinants of illegal electoral strategies is important for the design of policy initiatives to promote accountability and development-friendly electoral strategies

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