In democracies around the world, candidates who stand accused or convicted of criminal misconduct routinely win elections and assume important positions. According to data collected by Transparência Brasil, 60% of Brazil’s federal legislators have either been convicted of a crime or are the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. Ahead of Nigeria’s 2015 election, candidates openly brandished their allegiances to militia groups or criminal gangs while canvassing for votes. The cozy relationship between criminal malfeasance and democratic politics is by no means restricted to the developing world. A May 2016 report in the New York Times revealed that as many as 30 current and former state legislators in New York have been convicted, indicted, or accused of engaging in criminal wrongdoing in the past decade alone.....

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This article was originally published in Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions.