Civic Duty and Voting under Autocracy

44 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2019 Last revised: 12 Jul 2019

See all articles by Ora John Reuter

Ora John Reuter

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

Date Written: July 10, 2019

Abstract

Conventional wisdom holds that clientelism and coercion are the major drivers of turnout under autocracy, but these factors are not relevant for most voters in contemporary regimes. Using original survey data from Russia, I present evidence that most voters feel an ethical obligation---a civic duty---to vote. I then develop a theory that links the duty to vote under autocracy with respect for the state. Since opposition voters are more likely to feel alienated from the state, I argue that regime supporters are more likely to evince a duty to vote. Using a previously validated measure of the duty to vote, I find evidence in Russia consistent with these arguments. The theory and findings suggest that authoritarian incumbents have an inherent mobilizational advantage: their supporters feel a duty to vote, but regime opponents do not. This is a novel explanation for the sustained weakness of opposition parties under autocracy.

Keywords: Authoritarianism, Voting, Russia, Turnout, Elections

Suggested Citation

Reuter, Ora John, Civic Duty and Voting under Autocracy (July 10, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3299583 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3299583

Ora John Reuter (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - Department of Political Science ( email )

PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53211
United States

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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