Can mandated political representation increase policy influence for disadvantaged minorities? Theory and evidence from India
A basic premise of representative democracy is that every person subject to policy should have a voice in its making. However, policies enacted by electorally accountable governments often fail to reflect the interests of disadvantaged minorities. This paper uses political reservation in India to examine the role of mandated political representation in providing such groups policy influence. The Indian constitution mandates political reservation for disadvantaged castes and tribes in state elections - only members of these groups can stand for election in reserved jurisdictions. I find that political reservation in Indian states has increased targeted transfers to groups which benefit from the mandate. This finding underlines the importance of political representation in providing disadvantaged minorities' political voice. It also suggests that complete policy commitment may be absent in democracies, as is found in this case.
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