My colleague, Peter Ordeshook, passed along to me this reference to a new research paper, “Democracy’s Achilles Heel or How to Win an Election without Really Trying”, by Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler. Here is a summary of some of their results, from a briefing paper:
- Using dirty tactics during elections helps politicians that are already in office. If they use illegal practices to win elections, they can expect to be in office around 2.5 times longer than if they participated in fair elections;
– Dirty elections are bad for economic growth by skewing politicians’ incentives towards pursuing bad policies rather than good ones;
– Checks and balances are effective in reducing the incentives to cheat and implement bad policies.
– International aid has no clear effect on the quality of elections, unless there are effective checks and balances.
– Small, poor but resource-rich countries are more prone to dirty elections.
I’ve not read the research paper closely yet, but this is an interesting idea — studying the consequences of election fraud. That’s not been the focus of a lot of the political science research on electoral fraud in recent years, but does open the door for some very interesting and important new work.