Foiled Expectations: When Democracy Doesn't Deliver
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In this dissertation I propose and test a refined theory for the calculus of voting. I accomplish this by building on the classic model that includes the “duty” or “D” term as the primary motivating factor behind voting. I theorize that voters have basic expectations for democracy and how it should work for them in their own local context. I posit that voting then becomes an expressive act by voters as they decide to commit to the regime or not based on how they perceive their met or unmet expectations. My primary empirical focus is on developing democracies. Within that context I focus on the expectation that voters have for property rights. As such I place property rights in the broader theoretical context of voters’ expectations for democracies. At a basic level this dissertation adds to well-established literatures on micro political economy and voter turnout. On a theoretical and empirical level I incorporate several literatures by drawing on formal models of turnout and employing data from the newest developing democracies. I test my theory and find support for my proposition that property rights can motivate voter turnout. I then move into a discussion of implications for democracies that fail to meet voters’ expectations. In the face of unfulfilled expectations (often manifested through a lack of property rights protection) declining voter turnout may be just the tip of a looming iceberg. These democracies can expect to see several potential phenomena including reduced support for democracy and the regime as well as potential increases in (often violent) social conflict. Ultimately these regimes could experience severe democratic backsliding and potential full collapse.
Wimpy, Cameron (2014). Foiled Expectations: When Democracy Doesn't Deliver. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from