Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: No ordinary elections : essays in empirical political economy
Author: Koenig, Christoph
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 6203
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. —George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) This thesis consists of three essays in the field of empirical political economy. The topics addressed in these essays are very diverse, as are the historico-institutional settings. What they share is the quantitative analysis of election results and – at least in the author’s opinion – the inquiry of relevant research questions about political attitudes and institutions. This gives the dissertation its title “No Ordinary Elections”. Chapter one looks at the effect of war service on political attitudes. I analyse the impact of WWI veterans on changes in electoral support for Germany’s antidemocratic right after 1918. In order to quantify the effect, I construct the first disaggregate estimates of German WWI veterans since official army records were destroyed. I combine this data with a new panel of voting results from 1881 to 1933. Differences-in-Differences estimates show that war participation had a strong positive effect on support for the right-wing at the expense of socialist parties. A one standard deviation increase in veteran inflow shifted voting patterns to the right by more than 2%. My findings are robust to a number of checks including an IV identification strategy based on draft exemption rules. The effect of veterans on voting is highly persistent and strongest in working class areas. Gains for the right-wing, however, are only observed after a time period of communist insurgencies. I argue that veterans’ impact is consistent with the spread of a popular anti-communist conspiracy theory, the stab-in-the-back myth. I provide suggestive evidence that veterans must have picked this idea up during wartime, injected it into the working class and facilitated the rise of right-wing parties. The second chapter documents evidence on how election fraud in authoritarian regimes can be used by lower-tier officials to cast signals about their loyalty or competence to the central government. I exploit a radical policy change in Russia in 2004 which allowed the president to replace governors of the country’s 89 regions at his own will. As a result, federal elections after 2004 were organised by two types of governors: one was handpicked by the president, the other one elected before the law change and re-appointed. Even though both types faced removal in case of bad results, the need to signal loyalty was much lower for the first type. In order to estimate the effect of handpicked governors on electoral fraud, I use a diff-in-diff framework over 7 federal elections between 2000 and 2012. For this time period, I construct a new indicator of suspicious votes for each region which correlates strongly with incidents of reported fraud. My baseline estimates show that in territories with a handpicked governor the share of suspicious votes decreased by more than 10% on average and dropped even further if the region’s economy had done well over the past legislature. These findings suggest that officials have less need to use rigging as a signal once loyalty is assured unless faced circumstances raising doubts about their competence. Finally, chapter three studies the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 and voters’ response in West Germany. The analysis uses a diff-in-diff estimation which exploits variation in proximity to the nearest nuclear power plant (NPP) across 301 counties. Proximity is used as proxy for the shock from perceived risk of a nuclear accident. Using data over a time period of almost 40 years and 11 elections, my results indicate that living closer to an NPP increased polarisation and benefited anti- but even more pro-nuclear parties. While gains of Greens are shown to be similar across social groups and therefore in line with home-voter effects, the increase of conservatives runs counter to most expectations. Heterogeneity analysis shows that the effect on conservatives is far stronger in areas with an above-median share of adolescents in their impressionable years and of higher average education. I argue that this can be explained by differences in assessing the economic losses from exiting nuclear power over the risk of a nuclear accident after the disaster. Using variation in the scheduling of state elections, I can also show that the pro-nuclear response was stronger in counties which did not vote in the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl leaving more time for a rational electoral choice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JC Political theory