Can the Design of Electoral Institutions Improve Perceptions of Democracy in Fragile States? Evidence from Afghanistan
Journal of Global Security Studies, Forthcoming
72 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2019
Date Written: June 1, 2018
Liberal peacebuilding efforts in fragile states often suffer from low levels of public support for democracy. This paper explores whether changes in the design of electoral institutions improves perceptions of democracy in states seeking to transition from conflict to a democratic order. We do so by embedding a vignette experiment in a nationally representative survey of households in Afghanistan. Our experiment varies the method of selecting members to the national legislature, which allows us to examine how changes to status quo electoral institutions influence perceptions of democracy. We find that support for democracy depends on the choice of electoral institutions, particularly among those respondents who express sympathy for the Taliban insurgency. These results show how electoral system design shapes citizen support for democracy and helps explain why democracy struggles to live up to its promise in these challenging contexts.
Keywords: Electoral institutions, Voting, Democratic state-building, Survey experiment, Taliban, Afghanistan
JEL Classification: D72, D74, D78, K16, H11, F50, F51, N40
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