ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How Indian Voters Respond to Candidates with Criminal Charges

Evidence from the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections

This paper uses data from the 2009 Lok Sabha elections to examine the response of voters to candidates who have reported that they have criminal charges against them. Our empirical results show that voters do penalise candidates with criminal charges, but the magnitude of the penalty decreases if there are other candidates in the constituency with criminal charges. The vote shares are positively related to candidate wealth, with the marginal effect being higher for the candidates with criminal charges. Moreover, candidates with criminal charges also have greater wealth.

The authors thank Honey Karun for excellent research assistance. They are very grateful to Wiji Arulampalam, Rajeev Dehejia, Sugato Dasgupta, Lakshmi Iyer, K L Krishna, Albert Park, B Ramaswami and an anonymous referee for comments and helpful suggestions.

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