Loyal partisans but disloyal voters? Partisan attachment and vote choice in India (with Ankita Barthwal)
In developed democracies, partisanship is considered important for electoral stability. Most voters express a partisan attachment, and there is a strong association between partisanship and vote choice. In less developed democracies, partisanship has received less attention, as electoral volatility is high and party-voter linkages are often reduced to clientelistic exchanges. Recent work suggests that party-voter linkages in these contexts are more complex and that partisanship may in fact play a greater role than previously thought. In this paper we build on work on partisanship, strategic voting, and party system institutionalization to reflect on the circumstances under which we are likely to see stable partisan voting in less institutionalized contexts. Drawing on survey data from the Indian National Election Studies (NES), constituency-level election returns at the state and national level, and data on candidate switching, we show that the share of Indian voters expressing partisanship has remained quite stable at around 30% for more than five decades. Exploring vote choice, we find that in India’s most recent national elections, only about three-fourths of these partisans actually voted for their party. The share voting repeatedly for their party across elections is even lower, suggesting tenuous party-voter linkages. At first glance, the weak overlap between partisanship and partisan voting appears to be driven by strategic voting. Controlling for whether the preferred parties are even on the ballot, however, we find that partisans generally do support their party when that is an electoral option, and that they vote less strategically than other voters. In line with findings from other parts of the world, we also find that partisanship clearly stabilizes vote choice: compared to non-partisans, those expressing partisanship are much less likely to switch their vote from one election to the next. The findings contribute to deepening the understanding of voter-party linkages beyond advanced democracies.
Electoral Importance and Media Consumption: Quasi-experimental Evidence and New Data from India (with Julia Cagé and Guilhem Cassan)
What are the determinants of news media consumption? In this paper, we investigate whether it is determined by political motives. We build a new panel dataset on Indian publications at the city level between 2002 and 2017. We exploit the 2008 delimitation of the Assembly Constituencies, an exogenous change in the electoral importance of cities across India, to causally identify the relationship between relative electoral importance and news media consumption. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we compare change in the supply and demand of news in cities whose electoral importance increased compared to cities whose electoral importance did not. We show that media markets whose electoral importance increases see an increase in their total newspaper circulation per capita. We discuss how this political motive can be decomposed into media supply and media demand.
Electoral Switching in Indian Elections (with Pavithra Suryanarayan)
This paper focuses on an understudied aspect of party system institutionalization: the strength and stability of linkages between parties and candidates. Using original data on rerunning patterns of candidates across 3,872 constituencies in 26 Indian states 1974–2007, we look at an important manifestation of weak party-candidate linkages: candidates switching parties from one election to the next. In this paper, we seek to describe and explain the great variation in electoral switching across the Indian states. Whereas parties and candidates face incentives to change alliances opportunistically in response to short-term factors such as a weak economy, we should expect more such behavior in contexts of weakly organized parties and weak party-voter linkages. We provide evidence for this by using constituency-level estimates of the organizational capacity of parties, the intensity of social cleavages, and economic shocks. Our findings suggest that electoral switching is a useful micro-level measures of party system institutionalization.
Forging Ikumen in Japan: On state efforts to change gender roles (with Mala Htun and Melanie Sayuri Sonntag)
To raise the birth rate and promote women’s advancement, the Japanese state has adopted policies and programs to change gender roles, including the ‘ikumen’—or active father—project. Drawing on surveys conducted 2000-14 and three dozen interviews, we demonstrate changes in attitudes about gender roles and men’s contributions, but little change to working habits and the sexual division of labor. State efforts have produced only an “incomplete revolution,” as economic, social, and legal institutions continue to encourage traditional gender roles. However, our study offers grounds for optimism, as the change in attitudes indicates that new gender roles have gained some legitimacy.
Keeping women out: Incumbency and renomination patterns for female politicians in India
While village-level quotas in India have brought hundreds of thousands of women to power in local politics, only 4.6% of the Members of Parliament (MPs) and 4.7% of the Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) in India have been women since 1961. Using a complete, new dataset of the more than 500,000 candidates in Indian state assembly and parliamentary elections 1961-2015, including almost 25,000 female candidates, I show that female candidates tend to do as well as male candidates in the elections where they run. Controlling for differences in candidate quality by using a regression discontinuity design (RDD) of close elections between male and female candidates, I also show that parties tend to re-nominate fewer of their female than their male incumbents and runner-ups. The findings indicate that it is party bias and a hostile political environment rather than voters bias that has made the inclusion of women in Indian politics so slow.