GLD Working Papers

To Punish or to Pardon?

Kristen Kao and Mara Redlich Revkin


Rebel groups that govern territory require the support of large numbers of civilians. After conflict ends, these civilians are often perceived as rebel collaborators. Yet, we know relatively little about what victimized populations think is the appropriate response to collaborators. This gap in our knowledge has serious implications for the durability of peace. Through experiments embedded in an original survey of Mosul, an Iraqi city that experienced governance by the Islamic State, we identify the effects of hypothetical collaborators' (1) identity traits and (2) type of collaboration on preferences for punishment, forgiveness, and reintegration. Contrary to the government's harsh and indiscriminate approach to prosecuting collaborators, participants prefer more lenient punishments—or no punishment—for some. We find that the nature of collaboration matters more than the identity of the collaborator. Our design helps identify the conditions under which former rebel collaborators may be successfully reintegrated into post-conflict societies.


Expectations, Responsiveness, and Electoral Accountability


This working paper examines varied logics of vote choice beyond the canonical model of democratic accountability through a series of essays. The essays that follow consider how ethnic identities, social ties, and information on performance affect voters’ expectations of candidates’ responsiveness, and corresponding choices when voters go to the polls. They also show that the factors that drive voting may depend on the office at stake. These studies are characterized by a range of methodological innovations that permit the authors to identify causal effects.

This paper was first published as a newsletter by the American Political Science Association’s Comparative Democratization section. The APSA-CD website can be found here.

Not the Only Game in Town: Local-Level Representation in Transitions

Janine Clark, Emanuela Dalmasso and Ellen Lust


This paper examines the relationship between national and sub-national actors in the context of political transitions, exploring the debates over representation in early periods of democratic processes, how pressures to alter the composition of local council arise as part of power struggles among central elites, and the conditions under which local councils resist or succumb to such pressures. We argue that local councils take on an important political role in transitions, becoming politicized even in the absence of local elections. We examine these dynamics in Tunisia, where the appointed special delegations (SDs) that were put in place in the aftermath of the regime collapse subsequently came under pressure for change after the October 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections. Drawing on a unique dataset of Tunisian municipalities and in-depth case studies of four Tunisian municipalities (Hammamet, Gafsa, Zarzis, and Nefta) conducted before and after the transition, we argue that the troika’s success in changing SD composition to favor their parties depended on the ability of the SDs, with support of leftist parties and the Tunisian General Labour Union (Union Générale Tunisiennedu Travail, UGTT), to fight back. Where local branches of the country’s leftist political parties and union rallied to the SDs’ defense, appointed SD members could maintain their positions; where local SD members did not have such support and where the troika remained united, they lost their positions. Importantly whether SDs maintained their composition or changed, they were politicized in the process. Recognizing the conditions under which central elites are able to capture municipal councils helps to bring the role of representation and governance into the study of transitions, shedding light on local-national relations in periods of uncertainty and change.

Money Machine: Do the Poor Demand Clientelism?

Kristen Kao, Ellen Lust and Lise Rakner


The literature on clientelism suggests that the poor are particularly likely to exchange their votes for cash or material goods. In this supply-side perspective, candidates are more likely to offer goods in return for votes to the poor because the poor sell their votes at a lower price, are more likely to act reciprocally, and are less likely to see vote-buying as morally unacceptable. We know much less about the poor’s demand for vote-buying. Studies suggest that the middle class punishes vote-buying candidates, but assume that the poor welcome offers. Employing a rating-based, conjoint analysis in Malawi to examine the poor’s preferences over vote-buying, we find that the poor are repelled by candidates who promise an immediate exchange of particularistic goods for votes and prefer candidates who promise community goods. This highlights the need to consider the possibility that candidates incur costs when offering to buy votes in poor communities

Islam in a Changing Middle East: Local Politics and Islamist Movements


Scholars and policymakers have increasingly recognized that Islamist movements and actors vary widely – from domestically oriented, quietist movements engaging in democratic systems to revolutionary, armed movements aiming to upend the nation-state system. Yet, little has been done to understand how the nature of individual movements, and their success, often differs substantially at the subnational level. Some communities are much more likely to support different Islamist actors than others, and even the same movement may have very different strategies in some localities than others. Many questions remain regarding if and how Islamist movements and actors look or act differently in rural areas and secondary cities as they do in the capitals. To what extent do the strategies and performance of Islamists vary sub-nationally? And what explains this variation?

To address this gap in understanding, the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Program on Governance and Local Development at the University of Gothenburg convened a workshop in June 2017. In doing so, it extends research on Islamist movements, which has primarily examined the strategies of movement leaders, the relationship between Islamist movements and social services, the level support for these movements, and the performance of parliamentarian at the national level Yet, as political science as a discipline has increasingly recognized, much of the actual experience of politics takes place outside capital cities and major urban areas and that subnational variation is particularly important. The goal of the workshop was thus to take stock of the knowledge that exists on local Islam, and to point to new avenues of research.

The papers in this collection cover a diverse set of countries and historical periods. Bringing together specialists on local Islamist politics in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa provided us an extraordinary breadth of contexts. This allowed us to consider the extent to which the mechanisms we uncovered operate across multiple domains, to weigh factors common to Islamist movements, generally, and to recognize when outcomes appear to be primarily driven by context.