Title Civic Education and Electoral Observation in Violent Elections
Post date 10/16/2015
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

Political rivals in many democratizing countries regularly use violence to shape electoral outcomes. This project investigates whether the kind of democracy promotion programs typically supported by foreign donors — civic education and domestic election observation — can influence how citizens experience elections in countries where violence is widely anticipated. What effects do such programs have in such a context? We examine this question in the context of Côte d’Ivoire’s October 2015 election. Multiparty elections in that country have been routinely tainted by violence since a democratic constitution was first enacted in 1990. The October 2015 election we study is the first to be held in Côte d’Ivoire since the previous 2010 presidential election resulted in a low-scale civil war.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

H1: Participation in civic education should increase voter confidence in the electoral process.
H2: Participation in civic education should decrease voter support for parties that use violence.
H3: Participation in civic education should decrease voter approval of violent political tactics (e.g., opponent harassment).
H4: Participation in civic education should increase voter participation in election activities (e.g., rally attendance, voting).
H5: The presence of observers should increase voter confidence in the electoral process.
H6: The presence of observers should decrease voter support for parties that use violence.
H7: The presence of observers should decrease voter approval of violent political tactics (e.g., opponent harassment).
H8: The presence of observers should increase voter participation in election activities (e.g., rally attendance, voting).

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

The project centers on a panel survey that introduces experimental questions alongside standard questions concerning respondents’ trust in the democratic system, confidence in the election, participation in the electoral process, and concerns about violence. The same set of respondents will be interviewed twice: the first interview will occur in the 10 days leading up to the elections, and the second interview will occur after election results have been announced. The first wave of the survey will deliver an experimental treatment that informs randomly selected respondents of either (1) the broad themes promoted during the civic education program, (2) the expected presence of election observers, or (3) a combination of both. Additionally, in Abidjan, the panel survey will enable us to assess whether citizen perceptions vary systematically with exposure to a civic education program conducted in randomly selected neighborhoods. The second wave to be conducted after the elections will repeat many of the same questions posed during the first wave to gauge how respondents’ attitudes may have been influenced by the election result, including the responses of parties. The second wave will also build on the project’s supplementary component, a survey of local election observers. This will provide randomly selected respondents with either positive or negative assessments provided by their local election observers. Since respondents will be asked if they have participated in a civic education program, or have been exposed to its information through others, we will be able to assess whether there are interactive effects between prior exposure to civic education and election observer reports on respondents’ assessment of the election, including their willingness to accept the results even if they were affected by violence.

C4 Country Côte d’Ivoire
C5 Scale (# of Units) not provided by authors
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number 2015-08-7855
C9 Date of IRB Approval 10/13/15
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Researchers, Coalition of Civil Society for Peace and Democratic Development (COSOPCI)
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? No
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors