THERE GOES THE ELECTORAL NEIGHBORHOOD: LOCAL NETWORKS, ATTRIBUTION OF RESPONSIBILITY, AND THE (UN) FAIRNESS OF ELECTIONS
TORREALDAY, JERONIMO TORREALDAY
CALVO, ERNESTO F
MetadataShow full item record
During the last two decades there have been but a handful of recorded cases of electoral fraud in Latin America. However, survey research consistently shows that often citizens do not trust the integrity of the electoral process. This dissertation addresses the puzzle by explaining the mismatch between how elections are conducted and how the process is perceived. My theoretical contribution provides a double-folded argument. First, voters’ trust in their community members (“the local experience”) impacts their level of confidence in the electoral process. Since voters often find their peers working at polling stations, negative opinions about them translate into negative opinions about the election. Second, perceptions of unfairness of the system (“the global effect”) negatively impact the way people perceive the transparency of the electoral process. When the political system fails to account for social injustice, citizens lose faith in the mechanism designed to elect representatives -and ultimately a set of policies. The fact that certain groups are systematically disregarded by the system triggers the notion that the electoral process is flawed. This is motivated by either egotropic or sociotropic considerations. To test these hypotheses, I employ a survey conducted in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala during May/June 2014, which includes a population-based experiment. I show that Voters who trust their peers consistently have higher confidence in the electoral process. Whereas respondents who were primed about social unfairness (treatment) expressed less confidence in the quality of the election. Finally, I find that the local experience is predominant over the global effect. The treatment has a statistically significant effect only for respondents who trust their community. Attribution of responsibility for voters who are skeptics of their peers is clear and simple, leaving no room for a more diffuse mechanism, the unfairness of the political system. Finally, now I extend analysis to the Latin America region. Using data from LAPOP that comprises four waves of surveys in 22 countries, I confirm the influence of the “local experience” and the “global effect” as determinants of the level of confidence in the electoral process.