GESIS Meet the experts: “Linking surveys with electoral integrity assessments to explain political trust”
This talk presents a linking approach that combines expert assessments on electoral integrity with survey data to study how electoral integrity affects the way in which election results translate into citizen attitudes towards the political system. It introduces a causal mechanism that links political losing to political trust via evaluations of electoral fairness: citizens who voted for the losing camp are more likely to view the electoral process as unfair than citizens who voted for the winning camp, resulting in political distrust. It further suggests that the effects of political losing depend on the level of electoral integrity. In conditions where elections are conducted in a free and fair manner, even those who voted for the losing camp have little reason to suspect foul play. Whenever there are actual indications of electoral malpractice, however, political losers have much more reason to doubt the integrity of the electoral process than those who are content with the election outcome. The analysis makes use of a unique dataset that ex-post harmonizes survey data from three cross-national survey projects (Asian Barometer Survey, European Social Survey, Latinobarómetro) and links this survey data with expert assessments of electoral integrity provided by the Varieties-of-Democracy (V-Dem) project to cover 45 democracies in Europe, East Asia, and Latin America. The talk details how respondents (in the survey data) were matched to elections (in the V-Dem data) and discusses challenges arising from survey fieldwork periods not being aligned with election cycles.