This paper explores empirically the relation between party's procedures to nominate candidates, such as primaries, and quality of government. Using a panel data of Latin America countries, I find robust evidence that the quality of government is higher during the mandate of primary-nominated presidents. The empirical strategy exploits within country variation and controls for relevant covariates at country and party level. Using an instrumental variable approach with determinants of primary adoption produces similar results. The findings are consistent with primaries increasing incentives among candidates to improve policy design, and suggest that party institutions matter for governance.
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