The Electoral Disconnection: Local Political Competition and Public Goods Provision in an Era of Fiscal Re-Centralization
Plata Caviedes, Juan Camilo
Is democracy good for local development? This dissertation argues that as the number of competitive candidates for local office increases, candidates need fewer votes to result elected. This tendency shapes how local officials choose between solving fewer problems for most of the population, or solving more problems for fewer people. Through a series of analyses of Colombian spending patterns at the municipal level, I confirm that the scope of spending choices is influenced by the nature of electoral competition. In particular, local officials elected in places with a more concentrated electoral support tend to favor the provision of education services, and request more funding from national authorities. In contrast, officials elected in a more fragmented electoral context prioritize building schools, target spending to more areas but with a more limited scope, and request less funding from national authorities. By identifying the possibilities and drawbacks of different electoral contexts, this dissertation advances our understanding of the political conditions that favor, and impede, local development.