Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 18 No. 4 (Fall 2004)


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How to Subvert Democracy: Montesinos in Peru

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Mcmillan, John, and Pablo Zoido. 2004. "How to Subvert Democracy: Montesinos in Peru." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(4): 69-92.

DOI: 10.1257/0895330042632690


Which of the democratic checks and balances--opposition parties, the judiciary, a free press--is the most forceful? Peru has the full set of democratic institutions. In the 1990s, the secret-police chief Montesinos systematically undermined them all with bribes. We quantify the checks using the bribe prices. Montesinos paid a televisionchannel owner about 100 times what he paid a judge or a politician. One single television channel's bribe was five times larger than the total of the opposition politicians' bribes. By revealed preference, the strongest check on the government's power was the news media.

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Mcmillan, John
Zoido, Pablo


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