Paying to Party: Candidate Resources and Party Switching in New Democracies (Resubmitted to Party Politics)


Party switching among legislative candidates has important implications for accountability and representation in democratizing countries. We argue that party switching is significantly influenced by campaign costs tied to the nature of clientelistic politics that persists in many such countries. Where candidates are expected to personally finance their campaigns, including costs associated with handouts for voters, they will be induced to affiliate with parties that can lower those costs through personal inducements and organizational support. Campaign costs also drive candidate selection as party leaders aim to recruit candidates who can pay for their campaigns. We corroborate these expectations with an original survey and embedded choice experiment conducted among parliamentary candidates in Zambia. The conjoint analysis shows that candidates prefer parties that offer particularistic benefits, while the survey reveals that the parties are most likely to recruit business owners, who are also the candidates most likely to defect.