Visibility and Local Electoral Accountability

Peter Johannessen

Contemporary waves of decentralization and local democratization reforms have placed unprecedented power in the hands of local governments in the developing world. But it remains unclear how citizens use local elections to hold politicians accountable. Using evidence from Brazil, I show that proximity only provides voters access to information about visible actions and outcomes, which leads voters to reward incumbents for visible actions, such as infrastructure projects and capital purchases, rather than actions that align with their stated preferences, including spending on health care and education.

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Peter Johannessen

Peter Johannessen (PhD, Princeton University), a 2017–18 Kellogg visiting fellow, is a political scientist who studies decentralization and the political economy of development with a regional focus on Latin America. His research draws on evidence from Brazil to explore how popular participation shapes the local policymaking process in developing countries...
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