Research Publications

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

Electoral Studies, Vol. 38, (June 2015), Pages 10-18


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 behaviour 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.