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Conditional Cash Transfers and Voting Behaviour: Redistribution and Clientelism in Developing Democracies

Cesar Zucco
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Cesar Zucco
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Open Panel

Abstract

In this paper I examine the electoral consequences of conditional cash-transfer programs that provide individualized benefits based on objective eligibility criteria. I employ a variety of statistical approaches to both individual and aggregate data from three Brazilian presidential elections and find that even in an environment were citizens'' electoral behavior is not monitored they nevertheless reward politicians who provide them with benefits, even though these benefits are universally distributed without regard for partisan loyalties. I also find that among non-beneficiaries, greater exposure to the program increases the probability of supporting the incumbent, and there is only very scant evidence that those who must pay for the benefits are motivated by this distributive policy to vote against politicians who initiated it. The existence of electoral returns to CCTs questions the notion that targeting and monitoring are needed to solve commitment problems between politicians and voters. The absence of strong backlash suggests that these programs might be a politically viable form of redistribution.