Moroccan Parliament Building

Rabat, Morocco

Active on the Street but Apathetic at the Ballot Box?

 

Tunisia is a unique context where youth-led protests in 2011 led to a successful democratic transition followed by elections where voters experienced democracy for the very first time.Despite young people’s involvement in the revolutionary protests, youth participation at the ballot box remained low. This article uses the case of Tunisia to exemplify the intriguing and often contradictory elements of youth voter abstention by testing an array of theories using data from six different surveys, including an original survey conducted in 2018. This rich analysis documents that youth voter abstention is just as strong in a context were youth are theoretically “primed” for political participation as it is in established democracies and showcases the extreme robustness of the relationship between age and turnout. This research is currently under review at Studies in Comparative International Development

 

Youth Quotas and 'Jurassic Park' Politicians

Countries that undergo a democratic transition often adopt youth quotas to ensure stability and legitimacy in the eyes of a potentially rebellious youth cohort. Tunisia followed this trend by instating a youth quota after undergoing a youth-led democratic revolution in 2011. This subsequently led to youth representing 52 percent of the candidates in the 2018 municipal elections.However,it has yet to be tested whether a candidate’s age matters when evaluating politicians and casting a ballot in elections among Tunisian voters.This article explores the link between age and candidate evaluations which has been largely understudied in the political behavior literature. Using an original survey experiment fielded in Tunisia, I run a series of regressions that model the relationship between several age treatments and candidate evaluations.Overall,I find that most Tunisians do not use age as a heuristic cue when evaluating political candidates running for office with the exception of the oldest voters who tend to prefer a candidate that is in their 50s. These results hold important implications for the study of electoral behavior in a nascent democracy and showcases the potential limitations of youth quotas serving as a mechanism ascertaining legitimacy in the eyes of young people. This research is currently under "revise and re-submit" at the journal Democratization. 

Fact or Fluff? Electoral Youth Quotas in Tunisia

Countries that undergo a democratic transition often adopt youth quotas for elections to ensure stability and legitimacy in the eyes of a potentially rebellious youth cohort (Anderson and Swiss 2014; Belschner 2018). However, research centered on youth electoral quotas has largely focused on their impact on representation and behavior (see e.g. Bidadanure 2015; Tremmel et al. 2015), but has failed to take into account their impact on public opinion. Thus, it has yet to be tested whether youth quotas, in fact, ensure legitimacy in the eyes of youth - or is it fluff? This paper fills this gap by using Tunisia as a case study for exploring the impact of youth quota adoption on young people’s political attitudes.

 

Social Pressures to Vote in a New Democracy

This project explores whether social norms to vote automatically manifest in a nascent democratic context. Studies in the field of political behavior argue that citizens cast a ballot due to social pressures. People are fearful of facing retribution for failing to cast ballot and/or they seek a social reward or to be in favor among their peers for doing the "right" thing. Using an original survey experiment conducted in Tunisia eight years after the revolution, I find that Tunisians feel strongly that every citizens should vote in a democracy, but they are not yet socially pressuring one another based on their voter behavior. This finding holds important implications for the study of democratization, political development, and behavior.  Thus, I  argue that social pressures to vote likely manifest over time and are not automatically inherent when a country democratizes.

Visiting Tunisia's Parliament Building

Tunis, Tunisia