Establishing Responsive Linkages between Politicians and Voters in Pakistan

  • Tue 17 Oct 17

    14:00 - 15:30

  • Colchester Campus

  • Event speaker

    Miriam Golden

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Government, Department of

  • Contact details

    Lucas Leemann

Miriam A. Golden is Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Los Angeles, Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford, and Research Fellow in Political Economy at the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP). Her research interests concern political accountability and responsiveness. Her most recent book is Corruption: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2017), co-authored with Ray Fisman. Her articles have appeared in journals such as the American Political Science Review, the British Journal of Political Science, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Annual Review of Political Science.

Abstract: Elections are a blunt tool for accountability. Can enhanced politician-voter communication in the periods between elections improve democratic outcomes? We partner with a politician in Pakistan and design an experiment with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) --- a technology that enables him to robocall a large number of voters in his own voice to ask them questions and receive feedback. We randomise whether respondents receive a call soliciting preferences about upcoming decisions the politician must make. A follow-up call randomise how responsive the politician is to voters' preferences. Results show that respondents receiving information-seeking calls from the Member of the Provincial Assembly experience improved perceptions of government competence and place greater emphasis on incumbent performance in their electoral calculus. Point estimates indicate a positive but imprecisely estimated effect of the intervention on respondents' perceptions of the incumbent. We also find evidence that the above effects are driven largely by contact that specifically addresses the demands of constituents rather than by the mere fact of increased communication with the legislator, and that some types of content are more valued than others by voters. The main takeaway of the pre-test and pilot is that politician communication using IVR can encourage voters to engage more effectively with the democratic process in some ways.

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