Job Market Paper

When Do Politicians Appeal Broadly?  The Economic Consequences of Electoral Rules in Brazil


Electoral rules determine how voters' preferences are aggregated and translated into political representation, and their design can lead to the election of representatives who represent broader or narrower constituencies.  This project examines how single- and two-round elections in Brazil affect municipal mayoral races using a regression discontinuity design.  Two-round elections use two rounds of voting to elect a winner, ensuring that the eventual winner must obtain at least 50% of the vote.  Theoretically, this may provide incentives for candidates to secure a broader base of support.  Consistent with this, I show that in two-round systems, candidates represent a more geographically diverse group of voters, more resources are allocated to public schools, and there is less variance in resources allocated to public schools across the municipality.  I find evidence suggesting that these effects are driven by strategic responses of candidates, rather than differential entry of candidates into races.  The findings suggest that two-round systems can lead candidates to secure broader voter bases and subsequently exhibit less political favoritism when implementing policy.

Media: World Bank


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