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Rule of Law and Electoral Politics [Research Assistantship]

Department: Political Science
Professor Adam Ziegfeld

Project Description: This project investigates whether the rule of law–defined as the extent to which rules and laws are uniformly and routinely implemented–affects the outcomes of elections. It hypothesizes that in contexts where the rule of law is weak and rules and laws are erratically and unevenly implemented, voters vote primarily based on the candidates running for office, whereas in contexts where the rule of law is strong and rules and laws are uniformly and routinely implemented, voters vote primarily based on the parties competing in the election. One part of the project tests these hypotheses at the individual level. Another part tests these hypotheses using aggregate level election data. Using election results from around the world, this project will test whether swings in electoral support from one election to the next are more uniform across a country when the rule of law is strong than when the rule of law is weak. Such a finding would be consistent with the expectation that voters in strong rule of law contexts vote on the basis of national party labels, while voters in weak rule of law contexts vote on the basis of the specific candidates running in their electoral district.

Duties: Research assistant duties will mainly involve the collection of electoral data from recent elections in democracies around the world. The first task will involve collecting a list of countries coded as democratic over the past decade. Second, using this list, the next task will be to find official results from recent legislative elections. This will constitute the bulk of the work. Third, the final task will be to write up notes on the details of the information discovered. Students with prior experience with statistical packages will also potentially search existing datasets for election results and merge those into a single database. Students with other computer programming skills can put those to use extracting election results from webpages or pdfs so that they are ready for analysis using statistical software.

Time Commitment/Credits: 1-3 hours per week; 1 credit

To Apply: Submit cover letter and resume to awz@gwu.edu

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