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ICSID-CSDSI Research Seminar

Another session of the regular Research Seminar on Diversity and Development organized by ICSID and NES Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions took place on March 28, 2017. The event was held jointly with the seminar “Political Economy”.

Ekaterina Borisova, ICSID Leading Research Fellow and Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Economics, presented her paper "Elections, Protest and Trust in Government: A Natural Experiment from Russia" (co-authored by Timothy Frye).

Abstract: How do elections and post-election protest shape political attitudes under autocracy? Taking advantage of the largely exogenous variation in the timing of a survey conducted in Moscow, we examine the short-term impact of the parliamentary election of December 4th, and the large protest of December 10th on trust in the Russian government. The election had little effect on attitudes toward government, perhaps because vote improprieties were not new information. In contrast, the large and unexpected protest of December 10th increased trust in government. We argue that when protests are permitted unexpectedly, citizens may update their beliefs about the trustworthiness of the government. We find that  heightened trust arises largely from non-supporters of the ruling party  - those most likely to be surprised by permission to hold the protest - updating their beliefs rather than from social desirability bias, a perceived improvement in government performance, or a “halo” effect. It also suggests that autocrats can increase trust in government by allowing protests when it is unexpected.