Comparative Politics

Authority and Participation: The Role of Leader Type, Shared Identity, and Community Influence on Campaign Participation in Zambia



Why are some leaders more effective in mobilizing citizens than others? We draw on original survey data and a survey experiment conducted in the run-up to the 2021 Zambian elections to answer this question. The experiment varies the type of authority and the type of activity, as well as whether participation is monitored. The surveys also gathered information on the respondents’ shared identity traits with the leader and their perceptions of the leader’s social influence over (1) the scope of the individual’s life, and (2) the members of the community. This allows us to explore the extent to which it is the leader type or the nature of the relationships between leaders and citizens that drive compliance. We find that leader influence is associated with reported willingness to participate, and leader sanctioning and legitimacy are likely mechanisms. Leader type and identity have no influence on the respondents’ willingness to participate.


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