A Vote of Confidence? Corruption, Accountability, and Local Candidate Preferences in a Developing Democracy


How does democratic accountability function in developing democracies where corruption is widespread? Despite growing evidence on citizen responses to exposed political corruption, findings remain mixed, suggesting the importance of heterogeneous preferences. To address this puzzle, we administer an online conjoint experiment to 3554 subjects in Peru and use Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to identify how segments of citizens employ different decision strategies to choose the most trustworthy candidates. Findings indicate that citizens use a two-step sequential heuristic to select the most trustworthy municipal candidates. Respondents first apply four different deal-breaker heuristics to discard candidates from the choice set, resulting in four segments. Thereafter, the clusters assess the remaining issues to evaluate candidate trustworthiness. Only in the second step, does past corrupt behavior weigh most heavily on choice, thus helping to explain the mixed results for electoral accountability for corruption.

José Incio
José Incio
Ph.D in Political Science

My research interests include democratic backsliding, subnational politics, methodology.