Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Center for Global Development Hosted by
Center for Global Development
Vote buying poses a threat to both development and democracy in many countries. Politicians often sabotage social policy by exchanging benefits for votes. This study investigates how politicians in Brazil use social policy to buy votes and the role of civil society in curbing this practice. Evidence suggests that healthcare and poverty programs are often used for vote buying, including the provision of publicly funded sterilization to women in exchange for their votes. But while politicians once bought votes with impunity, civil society pressure led to a dramatic increase in prosecutions through petitions and watchdog groups. Vote buying is now the top reason that politicians are removed from office in Brazil, with nearly 700 removals over the last decade.