5. Skigin, Natán. Forthcoming. "Prosocial Behavior amid Violence: The Deservingness Heuristic and Solidarity with Victims." Political Psychology. doi: 10.1111/pops.12926.
Incidents of state repression and criminal violence trigger disparate public responses: some cases elicit widespread citizen solidarity with victims while others do not. What explains these different reactions? Public debates surrounding civilian victimization vary in the extent to which they present victims as deserving of help, often engaging in victim-blaming narratives. I argue that through the use of attributional evidence, individuals primarily determine their level of support for the victims based on whether or not they are deemed deserving of assistance, instead of focusing on alternative information such as their similarity with victims’ demographic characteristics or the perpetrator’s identity. I test this argument using various forms of evidence, including experimental, observational survey, and qualitative data from Mexico’s War on Drugs—one of the most significant contemporary human rights crises that has nonetheless triggered only sporadic solidarity. Consistent with the argument, the results show that narratives characterizing people as responsible for their misfortune reduce prosocial behavior by eroding compassion and perceptions of social norms—whether helping victims is socially acceptable. In contrast, citizens are more likely to aid victims perceived to have little control over their situation. These findings suggest that elite and media discourses crucially shape public responses to violence.
Extensive research suggests that electoral competition and power alternations increase violence in weakly institutionalized democracies. Yet, little is known about how political parties affect violence and security. We theorize that the type of party strengthened in elections shapes security outcomes and argue that the rise of programmatic parties, at the expense of clientelistic parties, can significantly reduce violence. In contexts of large-scale criminal violence, programmatic parties are less likely to establish alliances with coercive actors because they possess fewer incentives and greater coordination capacity. Focusing on Brazil, we use a regression discontinuity design that leverages the as-if random assignment of election winners across three rounds of mayoral races. We find that violent crime decreased in municipalities where programmatic parties won coin-flip elections, while it increased in those where clientelistic parties triumphed. Our findings suggest that whether electoral competition increases violence depends on the type of party that wins elections.
Citizens’ ability to influence public decisions is the hallmark of democracy, and central to this are candidate selection mechanisms. Despite the increasing popularity of primaries across the globe, scholars disagree on how incumbency status shapes primary election contests. To address this question, I exploit an electoral reform in Argentina that forces parties and coalitions to participate in primaries, but allows these to be contested or uncontested. Employing an original data set on federal legislative nominations between 2011 and 2017, I show that internal divisions encourage contested primaries within the opposition, to which district-level rivals strategically respond in kind by fielding multiple internal lists to counter any potential electoral “bonus” others may enjoy from contesting in primaries. Combined with the influence of presidents and governors over selection procedures, these patterns entail that primary races are closely fought within the opposition but trouble-free under incumbency status.
2. Lucardi, Adrián, Juan Pablo Micozzi, and Natán Skigin. Resignation as Promotion? Executive Turnover and Early Departures in the Argentine Congress, 1983–2017. 2022. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 47 (4): 823-854
When (and why) do legislators quit their jobs? Previous answers to this question have focused on retirements. Looking at voluntary resignations instead, in this paper we argue that leaving congress to assume an elected (executive) o ce or a position in the (sub)national bureaucracy may be a career-advancing move motivated by progressive ambition. We document this claim with data from Argentina, where roughly 12% of elected deputies leave voluntarily before their term ends, but rarely become un- employed. Consistent with expectations, we show that resignations tend to follow instances of executive alternation at the (sub)national level, and are driven by legis- lators placed at the top of party lists as well as those elected in midterm years.
Literature on legislative success tends to focus on independent variables over which lawmakers have scarce control. This article analyzes instead how legislators’ strategies affect their success in Congress. I posit that while weak ties between congresspeople are the most useful in increasing success in the chamber of origin under majoritarian settings, they do not raise the likelihood of bill approval in the second chamber or in plurality-led legislatures. Building on a data set that contains all bills proposed to the Argentine Congress between 1983 and 2007, results support these context-dependence hypotheses. I then use data from the Uruguayan Congress (1995–2010) to explore how the argument plays out in a Latin American legislature with weaker gatekeeping rules (i.e., an “open sky” legislature). Findings help gain insight into the strategies used in environments different from that of the widely studied U.S. Congress.