Public Opinion and Voting Behavior

Retrospective voting in hybrid regimes



Hybrid political regimes are characterized by fractured political opposition, suppression of independent media, and a loyal but less competent public bureaucracy. Does retrospective voting -- the bread and butter of electoral accountability -- still occur under such informational environments? Identifying policy failure, policy success, and political responsibility can be extremely difficult under these conditions. We argue that local economic development predicts local electoral results. Local development, as opposed to national fortune, is observable by individual voters independently of information from the media or politicians. Furthermore, we argue that economic development is more important to urban voters than rural ones, in particular because the latter are more detached from the national economy and political discourse. We propose to test our hypotheses using a novel dataset on geolocated polling station results following the 2011, 2016, and 2021 Zambian elections.


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