The electoral success of the Right in poor nations is typically attributed to non-policy appeals such as clientelism. Candidate profiles are usually ignored, because if voters value class-based descriptive representation, it should be the Left that uses it. In this article we develop and test a novel theory of policy choice and candidate selection that defies this conventional wisdom: it is the Right that capitalizes on descriptive representation in high poverty areas. The Right is only competitive in poor regions when it matches the Left’s pro-poor policies. To credibly shift its position, it nominates candidates that are descriptively closer to the poor. Using a regression discontinuity design in Brazilian munici- pal elections, we show that Right-wing mayors spend less on the poor than Left-wing mayors only in low-poverty municipalities. In high-poverty municipalities, not only does the Right match the Left’s policies, it also does so while nominating less-educated candidates.
PEW: Anderson Frey
Mon, Feb 22, 2021, 4:15 pm to 5:30 pm