Elections, Protest and Trust in Government: A Natural Experiment from Russia

42 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2016  

Timothy Frye

Columbia University - Department of Political Science; National Research University Higher School of Economics

Ekaterina Borisova

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

How do flawed elections and post-election protest shape political attitudes? Taking advantage of the largely exogenous variation in the timing of a survey conducted in Moscow, we examine the short-term impact of the parliamentary election of December 4th, and the large protest of December 10th on trust in the Russian government. The fraud-marred parliamentary election had little effect on attitudes toward government, perhaps because allegations of vote improprieties were not new information. In contrast, the large protest of December 10th increased trust in government. Heightened trust arises largely from non-supporters of the ruling party updating their beliefs rather than from social desirability bias, a perceived improvement in government performance, or a “halo” effect. This finding is consistent with the view that autocrats can increase trust in government by unexpectedly allowing protest without repression. It also suggests that when evaluating trust in government citizens may cue not off the content of the protest, but off the holding of the protest itself.

Keywords: trust in government, protest, elections, partisanship

JEL Classification: P26, D72

Suggested Citation

Frye, Timothy and Borisova, Ekaterina, Elections, Protest and Trust in Government: A Natural Experiment from Russia (2016). BOFIT Discussion Paper No. 9/2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2827551

Timothy Frye (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-3646 (Phone)

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Ekaterina Borisova

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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