GLD Working Papers

Do Women Face a Different Standard? The Gender and Corruption Factors in the 2014 Presidential Elections in Malawi

Boniface Dulani, Lise Rakner, Lindsay Benstead, and Vibeke Wang


Incumbency advantage is a key characteristic of African politics. Since the reintroduction of multiparty elections in 1994, corruption has been a persistent feature of the various administrations in Malawi. From this perspective, the incumbent president Joyce Banda of the People’s Party’s (PP) loss of the presidency after two years in office is a puzzling outcome of the 2014 elections. The paper explores why the incumbency advantage did not accrue to Banda, drawing from national public opinion surveys and focus group discussions conducted after the 2014 elections. We argue that, while faced with a major corruption scandal, ‘Cashgate’, Banda paid a heavier price than male incumbents facing corruption scandals before her. Her electoral fate is consistent with studies demonstrating that women holding political offices are scrutinized more than men and, when they transgress female gender stereotypes of incorruptibility, they are judged to a higher standard.

Creating Coexistence: Intergroup Contact and Soccer in Post-ISIS Iraq

Salma Mousa


Can intergroup contact build social cohesion after war? I answer this question by randomly assigning Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS either to an all-Christian soccer team or to a team mixed with Muslims. I find persistent changes to behaviors toward Muslim peers: Christians with Muslim teammates are more likely to sign up for a mixed soccer team in the future (12 pp., p < 0.08), vote for a Muslim player (not on their team) to receive a sportsmanship award (16 pp., p < 0.01), and train with Muslims six months after the intervention ends (34 pp., p < 0.01). Players on mixed teams are also more likely to believe that coexistence is possible (63 SDs., p < 0.01). These results seem to be driven by changing norms around social contact as well as a positive experience, with top-performing teams being more likely to patronize a restaurant in Muslim-dominated Mosul. Contact was less effective, however, at shifting generalized tolerance toward Muslim strangers. These findings point to the potential for meaningful social contact to build coexistence after conflict — even if underlying prejudice remains unchanged.

Do Female Local Councilors Improve Women’s Representation?

Lindsay J. Benstead


Tunisia’s 2018 municipal elections, in which a legislated quota was implemented and women won 47 percent of seats, raises questions about whether electing female councilors improves women’s representation in clientelistic settings. Using data from the Local Governance Performance Index (LGPI), an original survey of 3,600 Tunisians conducted in 2015 by the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD), this paper investigates the relationship between local councilors’ gender and women’s access to help with personal or community issues. Three findings emerge. First, male citizens are thirteen percentage points more likely to know a local councilor and six percentage points more likely to have contacted a councilor for help. Second, citizens of both genders are twice as likely to contact a councilor of the same gender when asking for help with community problems. Finally, electing females increases women’s access to councilors, due to network homosociality—that is, denser personal networks with others of the same gender—but has a limited impact on men’s access because female councilors have more hetersocial networks. By showing that electing and appointing women improves service and allocation responsiveness to females, the results call attention to the need to address gender equity issues when drafting electoral laws and implementing decentralization laws.


Tribes without Sheikhs? Technological Change, Media Liberalization, and Authority in Networked Jordan

Geoffrey Hughes


This paper examines the ways in which Jordan’s rapidly evolving media sector is transforming the nature of authority in Jordan. An older generation of leaders, known as sheikhs, confronts technologies they often don’t understand and a new generation that has little respect for its elders’ ancestral claims. Amid a proliferation of social media tools that allow young people to use the idiom of the tribe to act quickly and decisively—even violently—in the political field without regard for their elders, the Jordanian government seeks to reassert control over a media sector that is increasingly international, for profit, and privately held. Yet a new generation of would-be tribal leaders is rushing into the breach. Drawing on case studies of sheikhs, police officers, and journalists, this paper argues that the future of authority in Jordan will depend on the continued ability of leaders to use media to move between various scales of socio-political organization, representing themselves individually while also convincingly standing in for lineages of various sizes and, indeed, the nation itself.


The Importance of Intersectionality: Gender, Islamism, and Tribalism in Elections

Kristen Kao & Lindsay J. Benstead


Many studies of electoral behavior and women’s electability in the developing world focus on single traits—e.g., religion, gender, and ethnicity. Yet, candidate identities affect electability intersectionally—i.e., identities are mutually constituted by social hierarchies, leading to complex, interactive effects—in ways that are underexplored in this existing literature. Using an original survey experiment conducted among 1,499 Jordanians, we examine the effects of multiple, intersecting candidate identities (i.e., gender, tribe, and Islamist party identification) on voter preferences. Respondents at random received statements about male or female candidates who were Islamists or co-tribalists and rated their likelihood of voting for each. We argue and show empirically that existing theories of electoral behavior cannot account for women’s electability without an approach that considers how social hierarchies intersectionally shape electability. We find that although less electable overall, female candidates fare as well as comparable males once intersectional identities are accounted for. Among some voters, women do better than men from similar groups. Our findings underscore the need to apply intersectionality to theories of electoral behavior in the developing world and lay the groundwork for a larger research agenda explaining women’s electability.