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Politician Entry, Selection, and Performance in Sierra Leone

Institutions & Governance Sierra Leone

In regions which consistently support a single political party, the most important selection of a representative can be at the primary stage. However, in developing countries, primaries are frequently dominated by elites and conducted without transparency, decreasing the likelihood that parties select high-quality, representative candidates. Publicly screening candidate debates have previously shown positive effects on voter knowledge, candidate quality, and campaigning effort during general elections, but have not been tested on a broader scale in a less-controlled environment or been used to inform citizens’ participation in primaries. Researchers are collaborating to assess whether strengthening the primary process alters the characteristics and number of candidates, and ultimately the quality and performance of elected representatives. Additionally, they seek to evaluate whether public debates at the primary stage, which provide direct presentations of candidate competencies and policy priorities, change the characteristics of party candidates and the performance of elected officials. Finally, the study aims to understand if debates between parliamentary candidates in the general election have positive effects on voter knowledge, behavior, and campaigning effort when implemented in a low cost manner at scale. Results forthcoming.

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