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Online Department Seminar: Voting Against Autocracy

Wednesday, November 25, 2020, 1:30 pm

Abstract: When and how do voters punish parties and politicians for subverting democracy? We develop a conceptual framework that differentiates between three distinct mechanisms: vote switching, backlash, and disenchantment. The first mechanism entails a defection by voters from a party that undermines democracy to one that does not; the latter two mechanisms instead entail transitions between voting and abstention. We estimate the magnitude of each mechanism by combining evidence from a series of original survey experiments, traditional surveys, and a quasi-experiment afforded by the re-run of the 2019 Istanbul mayoral election. We find that turnout serves as a democratic check at least as much as does vote switching. Both mobilization and persuasion are viable tools for curbing the authoritarian tendencies of elected politicians.