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 an original survey conducted in 2018 – a mere two weeks after Tunisia’s inaugural municipal elections. This analysis documents that youth voter abstention persists in a context where youth are theoretically ‘primed’ for political participation. Lack of certain socio-demographics, low political interest, and a perception that voting is unimportant explain Tunisian youth voter abstention from 2011 – 2018. Overall, I argue that that even after a country undergoes a successful youth-led democratic revolution, subsequent electoral behavior is likely to normalize. This research is currently under review at The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.
Fact or Fluff? The Impact of Youth Quotas on the Electoral Behavior and Attitudes of Young People
Globally, youth quotas have become increasingly popular as countries attempt to politically liberalize their institutions. Governments view youth quotas as a tool for bringing young people into the political fold leading to reduce uncertainty and increased stability among a cohort that is typically primed for rebellion. However, we know little about the impacts of youth quotas on young people’s political behavior and attitudes towards government and elections. This study fills this gap by running a series of multilevel logistic regressions predicting young people’s attitudes and behaviors in countries that have and have not adopted youth quotas using data from the Afrobarometer waves IV, V, VI, and VI. My findings show that the impact of quotas on young people is mixed. Young people are more likely to vote and are more positive towards government and elections in countries with quotas. However, when analyzing the impacts of quotas within countries before and after their adoption – quotas fail to have a positive impact – and in some ways negatively impact young people’s attitudes. These results indicate that geographical context might matter when predicting the impacts of quotas on young people, and more needs to be understood in terms of the connection between political context and the adoption of electoral reforms. This research is currently a revise and re-submit at Representation.
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.
Invited talk at the United States Agency for International Development