GLD Working Papers

Explaining the Resilience of Single-Party Regimes: Centralized Politics, Promotability, and Corruption

Ngoc Phan


The spread of democracy during the Third Wave was accompanied by the expansion of one- party autocracies. Compared to other non-democratic systems, one-party regimes are more durable, suffer fewer coups, and enjoy higher economic growth. Why are single-party regimes so resilient? In this paper, I argue that in certain single-party regimes, centralized politics and meritocratic promotion combine to create an incentive system conducive to development and economic growth, which in turn consolidate the regime’s capacity and legitimacy. Using the case of local politicians in Vietnam, I employ a Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) to provide evidence that promotion pressures in these regimes incentivize the political elites to rein in rent-seeking, corruption, and the extortion of businesses. These conditions subsequently result in better economic performance in the localities.

Co-Partisanship with Mayors and Citizen Trust in Local Governance Institutions: Evidence from Tunisia

Salih Yasun


Does co-partisanship with mayors influence citizen trust in local governance institutions in new democracies? I answer this question through conducting a case study in Tunisia. I evaluate Arab Barometer (2018) survey data on trust in local governance institutions, and interview data with mayors, council members and civil society organizations. The results indicate that Tunisians who support the same political party as their mayors tend to develop greater levels of trust in local governance institutions through the perceptions of institutional performance, such as their degrees of corruption, clientelism, inclusivity and efficiency. The findings contribute to the literature by identifying the role and mechanism of co-partisanship in shaping trust in local governance institutions among the emerging democracies.

Success Beyond Gender Quotas: Gender, Local Politics, and Clientelism in Morocco

Carolyn Barnett and Marwa Shalaby


What explains the success of female candidates in local elections? Despite the proliferation of subnational gender quotas over the past two decades, we continue to know little about the determinants of women’s successes in local politics, especially in non-democratic settings. In this working paper, we focus on the case of Morocco and argue that the prevalence of clientelism and patronage networks at the local level hampers women’s abilities to win competitive seats. While these patterns dominate both local and national politics in Morocco and much of the MENA region, they are most pronounced at the local level with direct implications for female representation. We argue that women’s success in local politics is curtailed by their ‘newcomer’ status and weak party affiliation, combined with the majoritarian electoral system (SMD) in place in most municipalities that tends to favor more connected, male candidates who are predominantly viewed by voters as capable service providers. To test our argument, we rely on an original dataset combining the electoral outcomes of all 1538 of Morocco’s municipalities in the 2015 election, including municipal and councilor-level data. Quantitative data is supplemented with interviews conducted with local party officials and elected councilors.

Citizen Participation in Local Government Elections in the Age of Crowdsourcing: Explorations and Considerations in Tanzania

Deodantus Patrick Shayo


This study sought to explore crowdsourced monitoring of local government elections and the challenges hindering citizen participation in monitoring processes through digital tools. Non-governmental election monitoring organizations have embraced technology and crowdsourcing methods for generating election information. Digital tools have changed how election monitors and citizens connect, observe, create, and share political information. This study explores and considers the 2014 local elections in Tanzania and was influenced by the fact that, despite the existence of local election crowdsourced monitoring initiatives, none of the existing research explores crowdsourced election monitoring at the local level. We used document analysis, first to review types of crowdsourcing and their deployment in election monitoring, and key informant interviews to explore issues surrounding citizen participation in local election monitoring through crowdsourcing. We found that, while crowdsourcing monitoring is used in local elections, citizen participation faces various challenges. Our analysis shows that, among others, trust, costs, poor preparation and crowdsource planning, the digital divide, and poor infrastructure are critical challenges facing local crowdsourced monitoring. The findings shine a light on the emergence of local election crowdsourcing monitoring and the challenges facing citizen participation through digital technologies. To build effective, crowdsourced local election monitoring, we propose opportunities to shape crowdsourcing citizen participation through digital tools in forthcoming elections. 

A policy brief based on this paper is available here.  

Women Leaders: Exploring the Effects of the Chief Executive Gender on Budget Composition in Comparative Perspective

Valeriya Mechkova


Arguably, the single person with the most influence over any country’s policies is the chief executive, head of state, or head of government. Research has also consistently shown systematic gender differences in politicians’ priorities and behavior. Yet, few academic manuscripts connect these two lines of research; we have not understood to a sufficient extent the effects of having a woman chief executive. To fill this gap, this paper studies the imprint of gender leadership patterns on budget composition across 155 countries between 2000 and 2016. Matching methods help overcome the low number of women chief executives (36 countries) and improve the validity of causal inference. This paper shows that having a woman chief executive is associated with a subsequent increase in government spending for healthcare – a policy consistently found to be higher on women’s priority lists than men’s. This positive effect is present only when women hold de-facto power – i.e., not when women hold ceremonial positions – and is not present when considering education or military resources expenditure. Thus, the findings from this paper add to the evidence that identity politics matter, as women national leaders can have transformative effects on policy outputs, particularly in areas prioritized by women.