Voter Ideology, Party Systems and Corruption Voting in European Democracies

There is growing literature on an increasingly ubiquitous puzzle in many democratic countries: why do corrupt officials continue to be re-elected by voters? In this study we address this issue with a novel theory and newly collected original survey data for 24 European countries. The crux of the argument is that the ideological position of the voter together with the number of reasonable party alternatives explains why citizens would continue voting for their preferred party despite it being involved in a corruption scandal. Developing a theory of supply (number of effective parties) and demand (voters‘ acceptable alternatives to their preferred party in relation to their ideological posi-tion), we posit that there is a ‘U-shaped’ relationship between the likelihood of corruption voting and where voters place themselves on the left/right spectrum. However, as the number of viable party alternatives increases, the effect of ideology is expected to play a smaller role. The hypothesis implies a cross-level interaction for which we find strong and robust empirical evidence using hier-archical modeling. In addition, we provide empirical insight into how individual level ideology and country level party systems – among other factors – impact a voter’s decision to switch parties or stay home in the face of their party being involved in a corruption scandal.