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Research Seminar on Diversity and Development

HSE International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (ICSID) and NES Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions held another session of their joint seminar.

Michael Rochlitz, Assistant Professor at the School of Political Science NRU HSE, presented his paper " Does Independent Media Matter in a Non-Democratic Election? Experimental Evidence from Russia" (co-authored by R.Enikopolov, K.Schoors and N.Zakharov) on February 14, 2017.

Abstract: Can exposure to an independent online TV channel affect voting behavior during a non-democratic election? To test this question, we conducted two parallel experiments during the 2016 Parliamentary Election in Russia. In the first experiment, we conducted two surveys of 1221 respondents in 12 randomly chosen cities, before and after the election. After the first survey round, a randomly chosen sub-group of our respondents was offered free access to the independent online TV channel TV Dozhd. We find that respondents who watched TV Dozhd before the elections were significantly more likely to vote, but less likely to vote for the incumbent party United Russia. In the second experiment, we provided 20 out of 47 mid-sized Russian cities with a one month free subscription to TV Dozhd. In 15 of these 20 cities, we then also financed an online advertisement campaign for TV Dozhd on the social network VKontakte. We find that the 15 cities with both free access and the advertisement campaign had a significantly higher level of turnout, but the vote share for the incumbent party was not affected. Because TV Dozhd did not participate in the electoral campaign and abstained from any political advertisement, we attribute the effect in both experiments purely to the provision of independent TV news and the absence of censorship.

As usual, the event was held by ICSID and CSDSI in cooperation with the HSE seminar “Political Economy”.