I use field experiments, survey experiments, and quantitative text analysis to understand democratic erosion and democratic consolidation, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia and South Asia. My dissertation concerns (i) how ordinary citizens perceive democratic backsliding in the context of a consolidating democracy, (ii) ideology and preference formation in hybrid regimes, as well as (iii) the determinants that safeguard democracy in the age of electoral authoritarianism.
How Voters Perceive Democratic Backsliding in Developing Democracies [pre-analysis; preprint; online appendix]
How do ordinary citizens perceive various instances related to democratic backsliding? We propose a methodology to measure democratic backsliding at the micro-level. Through a conjoint experiment and automated text analysis, we investigate how citizens in a developing democracy define democratic backsliding, as well as the situations under which people might or might not tolerate instances of democratic backsliding. The paper sheds light on the mechanisms of democratic backsliding from the demand side.
Work in Progress
From Clientelism to Policy-Based Campaigns in the Philippines [pre-analysis]
We propose a supply-side argument to strengthen democratic accountability in the context of Philippine local elections. The literature on information and governance mainly looks at voters’ coordination dilemma, while we argue that politicians also lack a focal point to move away from the clientelist equilibrium. Politicians are more likely to support an initiative that promotes campaign transparency and subsequently shift their campaigns away from clientelism if (i) they believe that their competitors will support the initiative (coordination constraint), and (ii) the new campaign strategy could lead to an electoral victory (electoral constraint). Given that both the coordination constraint and the electoral constraint are satisfied, candidates are incentivized to shift from personalistic strategies to policy campaigns. To our knowledge, this paper is one of the first attempts in the field to explore the determinants that could shift electoral politics out of the clientelist equilibrium by changing incentives on the supply side.