PublishersUniversity of Oxford and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
In mature democracies, elections discipline leaders to deliver good economic performance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, most developing countries also hold elections, but these are often marred by illicit tactics. Using a new global data set, this article investigates whether these illicit tactics are merely blemishes or substantially undermine the economic efficacy of elections. We show that illicit tactics are widespread, and that they reduce the incentive for governments to deliver good economic performance. Our analysis also suggests that in societies with regular free and fair elections, leaders do not matter for economic growth.