Do Muslim voters prefer Muslim candidates? Co-religiosity and voting behaviour in India

Oliver Heath, Gilles Verniers, Sanjay Kumar

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Does candidate religion influence vote choice? And if so, under what conditions does religion matter? In this contribution we provide the first systematic analysis of the impact of candidate religion on voting behavior in an ethnically divided democracy: Uttar Pradesh, North India. The results from a series of conditional logit models shows that Muslims are more likely to vote for Muslim candidates, but only when those candidates have a realistic chance of winning – there is thus a strong strategic element to their vote calculus. Moreover, there is no evidence that Hindus discriminate against Muslim candidates, or that parties face an electoral penalty for fielding a Muslim candidate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10–18
Number of pages9
JournalElectoral Studies
Early online date22 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

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