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Help Me Help You? Populism and Distributive Politics in Ecuador

Adrian Gachet

Economics Discussion Paper Series from Economics, The University of Manchester

Abstract: Populist regimes manage to dismantle checks and balances on the executive with the help of popular support. What does a distributive politics model predicts under a populist regime? In this paper I use a particular setting: The (very) first election of former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa in 2006. This election is relevant since the political candidate was an unknown figure in politics and won with a new political party, no congressmen, and no local candidates. Due to this reason, the vote share of this election provides a reasonably good proxy of initial affinity for a populist politician. Between 2006 and 2010 several institutional reforms, that dismantled checks and balances on the executive, were implemented and supported via direct referendums. I estimate an empirical model using the vote share in 2006 and the number of bureaucrats at the municipal level in 2010. I also use the growth rate between 2001 and 2010 of the number of bureaucrats as an alternative outcome. To mitigate endogeneity, I construct a broad measure of intrastate conflict and use it as an instrument. To construct this measure, I use geographical distances to episodes of conflict in the period 1984-1988 between the government of that time and subversive groups. Moreover, I control for several pre-1984 characteristics. Municipalities closer to conflict episodes voted more for Correa and have more bureaucratic jobs. Results are driven by the municipalities with the strongest initial affinity (highest vote share in 2006), hence pointing to a patronage story.

Keywords: populism; tactical redistribution; state; conflict; Ecuador (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 P16 P48 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-dev and nep-pol
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