Election debates to increase political accountability.
Well functioning democratic structures and strong political governance are central to economic development. However, a lack of information about elections in younger democracies can weaken the accountability of elected politicians and, consequently, decision-making. Our research has found that giving voters access to information through debates between rival candidates can significantly improve their knowledge and increase democratic participation.
What is the challenge?
Political information can be difficult to access in developing countries because of fledgeling democratic structures and poor media penetration. Citizens may vote for candidates with little knowledge of their policy stances, qualifications, previous performance, or potential remit. Although election debates arguably inform voter deliberation, there is a knowledge gap around the impact debates have on voters’ decisions.
Voters showed improved awareness of specific candidates, their policies, and general political knowledge for several weeks after viewing a debate.
Participants reported that debates helped inform their choices at the ballot box. They were more likely to vote for candidates who shared their policy priorities and for higher quality candidates.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or follow us on: