DP14608 Voting or abstaining in "managed" elections? A field experiment in Bangladesh

Author(s): Firoz Ahmed, Roland Hodler, Asadul Islam
Publication Date: April 2020
Keyword(s): Bangladesh, Electoral authoritarianism, field experiment, managed/authoritarian elections, voting behavior
JEL(s): C93, D72
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14608

Many governments in weak democracies countries "manage" the electoral process to make their defeat very unlikely. We aim to understand why citizens decide to vote or abstain in managed elections. We focus on the 2018 general election in Bangladesh and randomize the salience of the citizens' views (i) that election outcomes matter for policy outcomes and (ii) that high voting participation increases the winning party's legitimacy. These treatments increase voting participation in government strongholds and decrease participation in opposition strongholds. The legitimacy treatment has stronger effects. These results have important implications for get-out-the-vote and information campaigns in weak democracies.