Information, Candidate Selection, and the Quality of Representation: Evidence from Nepal
How do we improve the quality of representation in new democracies? This paper studies candidate selection by party leaders and asks whether poor information about public preferences can lead elite choices to diverge from mass opinion. Working with a political party in Nepal, we show that while elites value voter preferences, these preferences only explain one third of elite candidate selection. Next, we embed an experiment in actual candidate selection deliberations for this party and find that party leaders not only select different candidates when polling data are presented to them, but that their updated decisions also improve the party’s vote share. By opening the black-box of candidate selection, this paper demonstrates that closing the information gap between elites and voters has the power to improve the quality of representation.