Elections and corruption: incentives to steal or incentives to invest?


We are happy to announce the annual seminar on the economics of corruption will take place on September 30. This year’s guest is Assistant Professor Mihály Fazekas (Central European University). The seminar is free of charge, but registration for attending the lunch is required.

Title of talk: Elections and corruption: incentives to steal or incentives to invest?


Despite the fact that most political systems around the world now hold regular multi-party elections, we know little about the effect of elections on political corruption. To address this gap in the literature, we employ a multi-method research design—combining unmatched and matched quantitative comparisons with a qualitative small-N study of Indonesia and the Philippines—to analyse a novel government contracting dataset that provides objective measurements of corruption.

We find that, all things being equal, corruption risks increases in the immediate pre-election period by 1.3-6.1% points (measured as single bidding in competitive tenders). Moreover, we are able to demonstrate that the corruption-enhancing effect of elections among low and middle income countries is stronger under conditions of (i) high electoral competitiveness, (ii) mid-level party institutionalisation, and (iii) “localised club goods” clientelism.

The 2019 Annual Seminar on the Economics of Corruption is supported by


Speaker: Mihály Fazekas


Mihály Fazekas

Mihály Fazekas is an Assistant Professor at the Central European University, School of Public Policy, with a focus on using Big Data methods to understand the quality of government globally. He is also the scientific director of an innovative think-tank, the Government Transparency Institute, while serving as a non-resident research fellow at the University of Cambridge and senior research associate at the University College London. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge where he pioneered Big Data methods to measure and understand high-level corruption in Central- and Eastern Europe.

His research and policy interests revolve around corruption, favouritism, private sector collusion, and government spending efficiency. Methodologically, he has experience in both quantitative and qualitative methods in diverse fields such as public policy, economics, and political science. He worked at the University of Cambridge as the scientific coordinator of the Horizon 2020 funded project DIGIWHIST which used a Big Data approach to measuring corruption risks, administrative capacity, and transparency in public procurement in 33 European countries. He also serves as a co-Principal Investigator on the British Academy/DFID funded research project looking at anti-corruption in development aid funded procurement.

He regularly consults the European Commission, Council of Europe, EBRD, OECD, World Bank, and range of national governments and NGOs across the globe. Together with Bence Tóth and István János Tóth, he was awarded on two occasions the first prize in the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre competition for the best new proxy measure of corruption.