Political Connections & Vote Choice: Evidence from Pakistan


Asad Liaqat, Michael Callen, Ali Cheema, Adnan Khan, Farooq Naseer, and Jacob Shapiro. Working Paper. “Political Connections & Vote Choice: Evidence from Pakistan”.



Do voters care about how connected their candidates are? We investigate this question in the 2015 local government elections in Pakistan combining: (i) data on ties between candidates, higher level politicians, and bureaucrats; (ii) a large-scale field experiment; and (iii) election outcomes. Before the election, voters considered local candidates? con- nections important and expected local politicians to help them access services provided by other levels of government. Providing voters information on connections increased support for more connected candidates, but information on past party performance did not. More connected candidates received more votes and were more likely to win office, but there was no electoral benefit to past service provision. The results provide novel evidence of the importance of political connections for electoral outcomes and show that forward-looking expectations based on candidate characteristics and an understanding of higher-level political process play an important role in vote choice.


Last updated on 08/05/2018