International Actors as Critics of Domestic Freedoms

59 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2016 Last revised: 7 Jan 2018

See all articles by Nikolay Marinov

Nikolay Marinov

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 4, 2018


When outside actors criticize domestic rights and freedoms, do voters update their beliefs on rights and freedoms? We argue that messages coming from outsiders who condition resources on democracy, and who possess expertise on democracy, are more likely to change respondents’ beliefs. We also argue that partisan elites amplify or lessen the impact of outside messages by accepting or rejecting the role of an intervener, and by setting the priors of the respondent. We deploy series of survey-experiments in Turkey, close to the 2011 and 2015 elections. We focus on the role of the United States, the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights. We find that criticism does not change anyone’s mind when its source is the United States but it does so when coming from European institutions. Consistent with the theory, the effect is primarily on supporters of the governing party. The findings, while tentative, have wide applicability.

Keywords: democracy, democratic transitions, beliefs, public opinion, international institutions, survey, experiment

Suggested Citation

Marinov, Nikolay, International Actors as Critics of Domestic Freedoms (January 4, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Nikolay Marinov (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

TX 77204-3011
United States


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