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Graduate Student Associate Seminar

Asad Liaqat, Doctoral candidate, Public Policy PhD program, Harvard Kennedy School

Discussant: Sharan Mamidipudi, Doctoral candidate, Public Policy PhD program, Harvard Kennedy School

We investigate the relationship between candidates’ connections, party performance, and voting in the 2015 local government elections in Pakistan combining: (i) data on political connections between candidates and more senior politicians; (ii) a large scale field experiment; and (iii) direct measurement of election outcomes. Providing information on past party performance effects citizen satisfaction with the government, but not support for candidates from the ruling party. Providing information on connections does effect support. Consistent with the experimental results, more connected candidates receive more votes and are more likely to win office, but there is no detectable electoral benefit to past service provision. The results have strong implications for democratic accountability in many settings.

This paper is co-authored with Michael Callen (UCSD), Ali Cheema (Lahore University of Management Sciences), Adnan Khan (LSE), Farooq Naseer (Lahore University of Management Sciences) and Jake Shapiro (Princeton University).