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Why is corruption not punished at the ballot box?

The role played by news selection

Macarena Ares, Sofía Breitenstein and Enrique Hernández, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Project selected in the Call for experimental research projects in the social sciences

Why are some politicians involved in corruption cases re-elected? This study shows that people avoiding exposure to news on the corruption scandals affecting their favourite party could be one of the origins of the fact that punishment of corruption at the ballot box is usually on a minor scale and politicians suspected of being corrupt are frequently re-elected.
Key points
  • 1
       Punishment of corruption at the ballot box is reduced by people having an aversion to informing themselves about corruption cases affecting their favourite party.
  • 2
       Instead of reading about a corruption case affecting their party, the majority of those surveyed prefer reading news about good performance by that party or news about entertainment.
  • 3
       Avoiding reading about corruption means that it is punished to a lesser extent, particularly among people who opt to read entertainment news. If these people were more exposed to news about corruption, electoral punishment of it would increase considerably.
  • 4
       Among those citizens who have a greater knowledge of, and interest in, politics, and who prefer to stay abreast of this issue, exposure to news about a corruption scandal affecting their favourite party does not lead to any reduction in the probability of their voting for it.
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