Timothée Demont: timothee.demont[at]univ-amu.fr
Roberta Ziparo: rziparo[at]gmail.com
In developing countries with weak institutions, there is implicitly a large reliance on elections to instil norms of political accountability and reduce corruption. In this paper we show theoretically and empirically that electoral discipline is a weak instrument for improving accountability. Our theory model predicts that not only does corruption increase with competition under some conditions, but leakages from those components of public programs that citizens do not bene t privately from, are unresponsive to electoral competition. We then test the model's predictions using novel panel data from a unique setting - village level audits of implementation of one of India's largest rural public works program in the state of Andhra Pradesh during 2006 -10 following elections to the village council headship in 2006. Our ndings largely confirm the theoretical predictions. The results highlight not only that over- reliance on the disciplining effects of political competition is misplaced but also emphasize the need for policy interventions that reduce pilferage in the public component of welfare programs, which entail larger welfare losses to citizens in low income democracies.