UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Civic Duty and Voting under Electoral Autocracy

16 January 2020, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

Ora John Reuter

Join us for a seminar in the SSEES Politics and Sociology Seminar Series with Dr Ora John Reuter

This event is free.

Event Information

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SSEES Politics and Sociology Seminar Series


Masaryk Room
16 Taviton Street

What role does civic duty play in voting under electoral autocracy? Conventional wisdom holds that clientelism and coercion are the major drivers of turnout under autocracy, but these factors are not relevant for most voters in contemporary regimes. Using original survey data from Russia, Dr Ora John Reuter presents evidence in the paper he will present during the seminar that most voters feel an ethical obligation—a civic duty—to vote. He then develops a theory that links the duty to vote under autocracy with respect for the state. Since opposition voters are more likely to feel alienated from the state, he argues that regime supporters are more likely to evince a duty to vote. Using a previously validated measure of the duty to vote, he finds evidence in Russia consistent with these arguments. The theory and findings suggest that authoritarian incumbents have an inherent mobilizational advantage: their supporters feel a duty to vote, but regime opponents do not. This is a novel explanation for the sustained weakness of opposition parties under autocracy. 

About the Speaker

Dr Ora John Reuter

Associate Professor at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Dr Ora John Reuter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. His research is in the areas of comparative political institutions, authoritarianism, elections, democratization, comparative political economy, and Russian politics.