GLD Working Papers

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.

Electoral Responsiveness in Closed Autocracies: Evidence from Petitions in the former German Democratic Republic

Hans Lueders


Contested elections are usually seen as preconditions for constituent responsiveness. This paper shows that even uncontested elections can create incentives for dictators to respond to and address citizen demands. I argue that autocratic governments engage in cycles of responsiveness to assure citizens of their competence before uncontested elections and ensure that high popular support mitigates the short-term destabilizing effects that elections can have. Using a unique dataset of petitions to the government of the former German Democratic Republic, I show that response times to petitions were up to 31 percent shorter before elections, and that success rates were up to 63.6 percent higher. While extant research on responsiveness in autocracies usually highlights the incentives of local officials, my results are driven by the central government. The paper furthers our understanding of electoral mobilization in closed regimes and contributes to an emerging research agenda on responsiveness and accountability in autocracies.

Equity with Prejudice: International NGOs and Healthcare Delivery in Refugee Crises

Melani Cammett and Aytuğ Şaşmaz


Refugees often face prejudice in host countries. Does local resentment of refugees result in discrimination in access to social services? We explore the quality of care received by Syrian refugees and Lebanese nationals in Lebanese health facilities using data from original surveys in a nationally representative sample of primary health centers. The conventional wisdom in research on intergroup relations suggests Syrians would receive inferior services, while research on prosocial behavior would predict little variation, whether due to intrinsic or extrinsic motivations. Our results indicate no difference in the quality of care for Syrians and Lebanese. Instead, they suggest incentives from international organizations at both the organizational and individual levels, as well as perceived public health imperatives, may explain equitable treatment, despite evidence for prejudice against Syrians. The findings advance research on the politics of refugee crises and humanitarian response, illuminating the experience of everyday life for refugees.

Bread and Salt: Labour, Reputation, and Trust between Syrian Refugees and Lebanese Hashish Farmers in the Northern Biqa’a

Jacob Cassani


This paper addresses the intersection between forced migration, labour markets, and governance. Drawing on extensive fieldwork amongst Syrian refugees in the Northern Biqa’a Valley, Lebanon, the paper argues that understanding ‘refugees as labourers’ is central in explaining practices of both Lebanese villagers and Syrian refugee camps. This article builds on the findings of recent labour ethnographies in the Levant (Chalcraft, 2009; Proudfoot, 2017; Sajadian, 2020; Saleh, 2016; Turner, 2016) to demonstrate the centrality of labour-capital relations to understanding the governance of newly settled communities. Labour is a fundamentally important feature in the life of a camp, interacting with and underpinning other patterns of interactions based on, for example, state apparatus, infrastructure, and inter-tribal conflict. The article presents and analyses four ethnographic vignettes of typical economic partnerships between Lebanese landowners and Syrian refugee-labourers in rural Lebanon. Each relationship entails a pattern of mirrored capacities and weaknesses, structurally replicated throughout rural Lebanon, creating an environment of labour insecurity and heightening the value of long-term, trusting relationships.