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Religious norms can undermine the effects of property rights institutions. Districts in colonial India that provided widows with rights to inherit the joint-family property of their deceased husband had significantly higher widow immolations than districts that did not. Religious elites (Brahmins) burnt disproportionately more widows, and widow immolations were higher in regions with a higher density of religious elites. The findings indicate that egalitarianism requires egalitarians. Elite norms embedded in religion can mediate the effects of property rights and lead to negative consequences.
In partnership with state Democratic parties and the Obama campaign, the authors surveyed staffers from nearly 200 electoral campaigns in 2012, asking about the expected vote share in their races. Political operatives’ perceptions of closeness can affect how they campaign and represent citizens, but their perceptions may be wildly inaccurate: campaigns may irrationally fear close contests or be unrealistically optimistic. Findings indicate that political operatives are more optimistic than fearful, and that incumbent and higher-office campaigns are more accurate at assessing their chances. While the public may be better served by politicians fearing defeat, campaigns are typically staffed by workers who are over-confident, which may limit the purported benefits of electoral competition.
Political machines dominate many electoral democracies. Scholars argue that local party members, commonly called brokers, are crucial to the success of machines. This article enhances our understanding of party machines by developing a formal model that reveals how leaders extract services from brokers. The model also shows that leaders of machines face a dilemma: they need effective brokers, but these brokers create vulnerabilities that can ultimately reduce the party’s vote share and even cause electoral loss. So, in addition to highlighting electoral strengths of political machines, this article reveals their organizational vulnerabilities. This argument is evaluated with a novel survey experiment from Argentina. The survey is the first to draw upon a probability sample of brokers in any country.
What explains the development of legislative party voting unity? Evidence from the United States and Britain indicate that partisan sorting, cohort replacement effects, electoral incentives, and agenda control contributed to enhancing party cohesion during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Here, these mechanisms are evaluated by analysing a dataset containing all the recorded votes from the Canadian House of Commons, 1867–2011. Overall, we find that partisan sorting and the government’s ability to control the agenda are central to the consolidation of parties over time. Our results underscore the need to integrate institutional rules and legislative agendas into models of parliamentary voting behaviour and suggest that strict party discipline can lead to the development of a multi-party system in the legislative arena.
Access to information is a hallmark of democracy, and democracy demands an informed citizenry. Knowledge of party positions is necessary for voters so that electoral choices reflect preferences, allowing voters to hold elected officials accountable for policy performance. Whereas most vote choice models assume that parties perfectly transmit positions, citizens in fact obtain political information via the news media, and this news coverage can be biased in terms of salience – which leads to asymmetric information. This study examines how information asymmetries in news coverage of parties influence knowledge about political party positions. It finds that the availability of information in the news media about a party increases knowledge about its position, and that party information in non-quality news reduces the knowledge gap more than information in quality news.
Citizen perceptions of the extent of fraud in a given authoritarian election can differ widely. This article builds on the literature on information acquisition and processing in democracies to argue that much of this variation is due to the way in which citizens’ underlying political orientations affect both the kind of information they gather and how they process that information. These differences in information acquisition and processing have important implications for how election monitoring reports, access to the internet and other sources of information are likely to affect the stability of contemporary authoritarian regimes. The theory is tested using observational data and a survey experiment from the Russian presidential election of 2012.
Growing up in a booming local economy can influence turnout in adulthood because family income influences the realization of cognitive abilities, investments in human capital and socio-economic status. Exploiting the discovery of oil outside the Norwegian county of Rogaland, this article identifies cohorts that experienced a shock in family income in childhood. This shock enables the effect of economic resources in childhood to be isolated from other characteristics of parents, such as their education level and personality traits. The study uses a differences-in-differences approach and finds that the affected cohorts are about 4 percentage points more likely to vote. The results suggest that potential mechanisms in addition to family income are changes in local public spending and in peers’ political behaviour.
Conventional wisdom recognizes the prevalence of intergroup clashes during political transition. Most explanations of ethnic riots, however, are based on clashes in mature democracies, and are therefore silent on the dynamics at work during democratic transition. Using district-level data in Indonesia from 1990 through 2005, this article argues that riots tend to occur in ethnically divided districts with low electoral competition because uncompetitiveness in the first democratic elections signals continued regime entrenchment and local political exclusion. As such, riots often follow uncompetitive elections, and dissipate after elections become more competitive and opposition candidates secure electoral victory.
The First World War is often cited as proof par excellence of the flaws in the liberal peace argument because the adversaries it engaged had been each other’s major pre-war trading partners. Although commonly assumed to have wreaked havoc on the trade of the states it engaged, the war’s impact on commerce has rarely been rigorously examined. Using an original dataset, this study shows that the Great War triggered substitution processes that reduced its trade-related costs. Although recourse to second-best alternatives always induces efficiency losses, the costs of adjustment were small relative to the other costs that states incurred during the war. The analysis shows that the Great War is not the egregious exception to the theory that conventional wisdom has long assumed it to be. At the same time, it makes clear that the deterrent power of trade varies inversely with belligerents’ ability to access the markets of alternative trading partners.
A large literature has demonstrated that international action can promote the resolution of civil wars. However, international actors do not wait until violence starts to seek to manage conflicts. This article considers the ways in which the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reduces the propensity for self-determination movements to escalate to civil war, through actions that directly pertain to the disputing actors or that indirectly shape actor incentives. It examines the relationship between the content of UNSC resolutions in all self-determination disputes from 1960 to 2005 and the onset of armed conflict in the disputes. The study finds that diplomatic actions that directly address disputes reduce the likelihood of armed conflict, and that military force and sanctions have more indirect preventive effects.
Why are some people willing to initiate protest against authoritarian regimes? How does repression affect their willingness to act? Drawing on data from the Arab Spring protests in Morocco, this article argues first that activism is passed down from one generation to the next: first movers often came from families that had been punished for opposing the regime in the past. Secondly, repression during the Arab Spring was also counterproductive: those connected to first movers via Facebook supported renewed pro-democracy protests when informed of the regime’s use of repression in 2011. A regime that jails and beats political dissidents creates incentives for its citizens to oppose it; these abuses can come back to haunt the regime long after repression occurs.