Party Alignment and the Corruption-Reducing Effects of Lower Poverty and Violence: Evidence from Mexico

Clarity of responsibility theory suggests that once political parties align/match at higher and lower levels of government, voters can more easily discern who is responsible for corruption, and politicians react accordingly by reducing their corruption levels. By the same token, party alignment yields clientelistic resource advantages in newer democracies, and many countries have three-tiered political systems involving local, state, and national levels. In this paper, I examine the conditions under which three-tier party alignment and less clear alignment configurations condition politicians’ levels of corruption. To do so, I leverage new, objective corruption data from 11 years of Mexican municipal audits reports, and identify the causal effects of full-, partial-, non-alignment through a regression discontinuity design involving close elections. Results are currently preliminary, but I find some evidence that municipalities in which violence levels recently reduced exihibit lower levels of corruption as well. The paper will contribute to a better understanding of how poverty, violence, and political-institutional configurations interact to produce different levels of corruption in new democracies.