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  • Author: Andreas Bagenholm, Stephan Dahlberg, Maria Solevid
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: In this paper, we argue that the effects of corruption on voter turnout not necessarily have to be negative. We argue that voters’ willingness to participate in elections will increase when parties politicize the issue of corruption in electoral campaigns, as it indicates party responsiveness to voter concerns. We test this claim by using individual-level data from CSES coupled with unique context data on party politicization of corruption in campaigns. Our findings show that higher perceived levels of corruption are associated with lower voter turnout but that the negative effect of perceiving high corruption on turnout is reduced in an electoral context where corruption is politicized. The results thus show that if corruption is not politicized, individuals’ corruption perceptions exert a significant negative impact on turnout. By politicizing anti-corruption measures, political parties are acting policy responsive and by that they are also affecting voters’ decision whether to vote or not.
  • Topic: Politics, Political Theory, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
  • Author: Frida Boräng, Sverker Jagers, Marina Povitkina
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: One of the central questions in research on the drivers behind public good provision is how political regimes and institutions impact the provision of public goods. Previous research within this field has shown that democratic history is positively related to public good provision, including the universal provision of reliable electricity. In this paper, we elaborate on these findings by investigat ing how corruption interacts with democratic history in shaping electricity provision. It is argued that since corruption can shape the implementation process of public policies as well as the policy choices, high levels of corruption are likely to limit the positive effect of democratic experience. Following Min (2015), we measure electricity provision by the share of population living in unlit areas. We find that democratic history leads to higher electrification rates only when corruption is relatively low. In high-corrupt contexts, however, the positive effect of democratic history is absent.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democracy, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gissur Ólafur Erlingsson, Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: The extent of corruption in Iceland is highly contested. International corruption measures indicate a relatively small amount of corruption, while domestic public opinion suggest a serious corruption problem. Thus, uncertainty prevails about the actual extent of corruption and whose perceptions to rely on. This problem is relevant for corruption research in general. Perceptions are increasingly used as proxies for the actual levels of corruption in comparative research. But we still do not know enough about the accuracy of these proxies or the criteria they must meet in order to give depend- able results. In fact, radical differences exist concerning evaluations of perceptions between those who believe in unbiased learning and those believing perceptual bias to be widespread. The purpose of this article is, therefore, to attempt to gauge which factors may influence how perceptions of corruption are shaped and why differences in corruption perceptions between different groups may be so pronounced. We present findings from original survey data from three parallel surveys – among the ‘public’, experts, and ‘municipal practitioners’ – conducted in Iceland in 2014. Expecta- tions based on the perceptual bias approach are tested, indicating that perceptions may be affected by (1) information factors, (2) direct experience of corruption and (3) emotive and/or ideological fac- tors. The validity of perception measures should be considered with this in mind. Domestic experts are likely to be well informed and avoid perceptual bias to a greater extent than other groups. Our examination of the Icelandic case suggests that the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) tends to underestimate corruption problems in ‘mature welfare states’, such as Iceland, whilst the general public tends to overestimate it.
  • Topic: Corruption, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Iceland
  • Author: Salvador Parrado, Victor Lapuente, Carl Dahlström
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: This paper engages in the debate about how different ways of organizing relations between politicians and bureaucrats affect corruption. Research has established robust correlations between the political autonomy of bureaucracy and low corruption, on both national and regional levels, but there are few studies that explore the causal mechanisms linking these two phenomena. We do so by comparing public procurement processes in two similar Spanish cities, interviewing all important actors. We show that relatively independent bureaucrats—so-called trustees—can act as checks to prevent political moral hazard. Yet, in order for this to occur, other institutions must support the trustee, such as a merit-based human resources policy, rules, and standard operating procedures, transparency and independent watchdogs. There is thus no silver bullet to defend us against corruption, but having these mechanisms in place makes it much more costly for politicians to oppor- tunistically bend public procurement processes to favour bribe-paying contractors.
  • Topic: Corruption, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Spain
  • Author: Bo Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: The following arguments are presented. 1) Corruption in its various forms is a serious social ill. 2) Democracy is not a safe cure against corruption. 3) Increased gender equality seems to be one important factor behind getting corruption under control. 4) Impartiality in the exercise of public power, not least, when it “translates” into meritocratic recruitment and promotion in the public administration, has a powerful effect on lowering corruption. 5) While some aspects of impartiality are central for gender equality, research results are mixed. Some show that impartial principles promotes gender equality, others show that gender bias exists also in many processes designed to be impartial. Going from these results to policy recommendation is thus fraught with many difficulties. One is how to handle problems of legitimacy in the implementation process for various forms of preferential treatment of discriminated groups. Since these problems are impossible to handle, we may be in for a “Churchillian” argument. Like representative democracy, meritocracy may be a far from ideal solution for lowering corruption and thereby promoting human well-being, but it may be the least bad of existing alternatives.
  • Topic: Corruption, Gender Issues, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Niklas Harring, Victor Lapuente
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: For many economists government intervention is linked to low levels of interpersonal trust and corruption, while, on the contrary, for many political scientists, government intervention is associ- ated to high trust and low corruption. The goal of this paper is to reconcile these contrasting find ings by distinguishing the differing effects of trust over two alternative types of government intervention: regulation and taxation. Low-trust individuals demand more governmental regulation but less government taxation. We test the hypotheses by focusing on a particular policy – i.e. environmental policy – where governments use different mixes of regulatory and tax mechanisms, and for which we have data on both trust in others (interpersonal trust) and trust in public institutions (in- stitutional trust). The main finding is that those individuals with low trust (both interpersonal and institutional trust) tend to demand, ceteris paribus, more governmental regulation of the environ- ment and, but are less inclined to pay higher taxes to protect the environment. We also find that the effect of institutional trust is stronger than the effect of interpersonal trust, which puts previous studies in a perspective.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Regional Cooperation, Regulation, Political structure
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Bernhard, Amanda B Edgell, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: While it is clear that contemporary authoritarian incumbents use democratic emulation as a strategy in the hopes of stabilizing and extending their tenure in power, this does not mean it is always effective. Indeed, an extant literature presents strong evidence that the opening of the pursuit of power to electoral competition can make authoritarianism vulnerable. Unless it is mediated by other factors, democratic emulation by authoritarian incumbents cannot simultaneously both stabilize their rule and make it more vulnerable to democratic transitions. These two literatures leave us with a set of contradictory generalizations. Some scholars argue that reiterated multiparty competitive elections present a gradual path from authoritarianism to democracy. Can they at the same time be a source of authoritarian stability? In this paper we seek to resolve this paradox by employing a unique combination of event history modeling to assess how experiences with multiparty elections influence patterns of authoritarian survival and transition in 108 countries from 1946-2010. Our results suggest that while authoritarian regimes face increasing odds of failure during the first three iterated multiparty and competitive election cycles, subsequent iterated cycles are far less dangerous to their survival. Given that few authoritarian regimes survive past three elections, these findings should be seen as more supportive of the democratization by elections thesis than democratic emulation as a way to enhance authoritarian survival.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nicholas Kerr, Anna Lührmann
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: As multiparty elections have become a global norm, scholars and policy experts regard public trust in elections as vital for regime legitimacy. However, very few cross-national studies have examined the consequences of electoral manipulation, including the manipulation of election administration and the media, on citizens’ trust in elections. This paper addresses this gap by exploring how autonomy of election management bodies (EMBs) and media freedom individually and conjointly shape citizens’ trust in elections. Citizens are more likely to express confidence in elections when EMBs display de-facto autonomy, and less likely to do so when media entities disseminate information independent of government control. Additionally, we suggest that EMB autonomy may not have a positive effect on public trust in elections if media freedom is low. Empirical findings based on recent survey data on public trust in 47 elections and expert data on de-facto EMB autonomy and media freedom support our hypotheses.
  • Topic: Public Opinion, Media, Post Truth Politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tove Ahlbom, Marina Povitkina
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Natural disasters cause suffering for millions of people around the globe every year and as climate change unfolds the likelihood of natural catastrophes is increasing. While weather shocks, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods are beyond our control, a governments’ capacity to protect populations largely determines the degree of human suffering in disasters. Democracies, with freedom of speech, broad public participation and representation, are believed to protect their populations better than non-democratic regimes. However, democratic institutions are insufficient for securing protection from disasters in contexts of corruption, poor planning and public administration incompetence. We argue that the effect of democracy on the extent of human suffering in disasters is contingent on the ability of governments to implement their tasks or the quality of implementing institutions. We test this interaction hypothesis using time series cross-sectional data from the Varieties of Democracy project, the Quality of Government dataset and data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The results show that more democracy is associated with fewer people being affected by natural disasters only in settings where institutional quality is high. When institutional quality is low, more people seem to suffer in democracies than in authoritarian states.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Suthan Krishnarajan, Jørgen Møller, Lasse Lykke Rørbæk, Svend-Erik Skaaning
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: An influential body of scholarship has associated both democracy and democratization with civil war. Important findings include the so-called inverted U-shaped relationship between democracy-levels and civil war onset and that propensity for democratic openings to spark internal violence. However, most of these findings have been challenged, particularly by scholars pointing to problems with the aggregate nature of the analyses and the data sources used. Against this background, we enlist new, fine-grained data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. We discuss how the new data can be used to disaggregate regime variables in order to better understand the causal dynamics that link the regime form and regime change to civil war onset, if any. Guided by these considerations, we use the new data to reassess the ‘inverted U-curve’. Our analysis shows that this relationship is driven by ‘liberal’ aspects of democracy such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech rather than by the ‘electoral core’ of democracy. The relationship between clean elections and civil war onset is approximately linearly decreasing, and at the indicator level of the clean elections attribute we find several different patterns.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus