Seminar – 2 November

How Changes in Government’s Head Empower Citizens: The Effect of Past Exposures to Electoral Turnovers on Support for Democracy

Damien Bol – King’s College London

From 3:30 to 4:30 P.M., in C-4019

A prevailing narrative suggests that citizens who live under democratic rule often take it for granted, potentially leading to backsliding. This paper advances a more optimistic perspective, claiming that electoral turnovers–elections that result in the displacement of the head of government–constitute pivotal events that can renew citizens’ support for democracy. To test this argument, I aggregated data from multiple international surveys, encompassing approximately 500,000 respondents that I then matched with a century’s worth of electoral data. This dataset allows me to identify the electoral turnovers to which each respondent has been exposed. By using both observational and causal methods leveraging discontinuities in closely contested elections, I show that past exposures to such turnovers, especially the first one, bolster support for democracy. Subsequent analyses indicate that an important driver of this effect is an enhanced sense of efficacy among citizens.

This seminar is jointly presented with the CSDC and the FRQSC research team Nouveaux enjeux et nouveaux défis de la gouvernance

This content has been updated on 1 November 2023 at 10 h 19 min.