Pour (Tear) Gas on Fire? Violent Confrontations and Anti-Government Backlash in Hong Kong
24 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2020
Date Written: March 23, 2020
How do voters in a developed economy react to political violence at the ballot box? Most of the current literature suggests that violent clashes dampen public support of the movement. Using novel geocoded data and an instrumental variables approach, we examine whether violent confrontations, proxied by the frequency of police shooting tear gas rounds at protesters, affected Hong Kong’s 2019 municipal election. Contrary to expectations of delegitimation, we find that violent confrontations decreases support for the regime. We estimate the presence of such conflicts increases the constituency-level antigovernment vote share by up to 6%, and we offer evidence that they de-mobilize proregime voters. We discuss two possible explanations behind our findings and the implications for understanding the role of violence in protest movements.
Keywords: conflict, Hong Kong, policing, political resistance, political violence
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