Some things are more important than corruption

jair bolsonaro corruption
Jair Bolsonaro rose thanks to disgust at corruption against the Worker’s Party. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

In the anti-corruption community, it is fairly common to puzzle over—and bemoan—the fact that voters in many democracies seem to support candidates that are known or reputed to be corrupt. “Why,” we often ask, “do voters often elect or re-elect corrupt politicians, even though voters claim to despise corruption?”

One of the common answers that we give to this question (an answer supported by some empirical research) is that even though voters dislike corruption, they care more about other things, and are often willing to overlook serious allegations of impropriety if a candidate or party is attractive...

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