Judicial Subversion: Evidence from Brazil

Guilherme Lambais (Universidade de Brasilia)
Henrik Sigstad (Harvard University)

Abstract: Is a formally independent judicial system able to check abuses of political power? In this paper we show that candidates in Brazilian local elections who narrowly win an election are 60 percentage points more likely than candidates who narrowly lose to be acquitted in corruption cases filed against them before the election. We show evidence suggesting the effect comes from a direct influence of the power of elected politicians over law enforcers, rather than from elected politicians having better lawyers.

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