Publication details

Voters' Perception of Pork-Barrel Politics: Evidence from Survey Experiments in the Czech Republic and Slovakia


TÓTH Michal NEMČOK Miroslav SPÁČ Peter

Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
Description Effective and fair redistribution of public resources is seen as one of the key elements of a well-functioning democracy. In the real world, however, it turns out that resources are often allocated neither effectively nor equitably, and that the impartial allocation of public finances serves as a tool for securing votes and re-election. Despite compelling evidence for pork-barrel patterns in distributive politics, little is known about voters’ perception of this inherently unfair effort. Existing findings are not only limited but also contradictory – voters can perceive such strategy both positively and negatively – while data is gathered entirely in the Western countries with a long democratic tradition. We aim to contribute to these findings with patterns present in Central Europe, for which a higher degree of clientelism and corruption is characteristic. Thus, we conducted two survey experiments – in Slovakia and the Czech Republic – both of them using a representative sample of the population. Research design allowed us to manipulate with two main factors – (1) fairness of the distribution and (2) profit for the respondent – in order to study how they influence the support for a decision-maker responsible for the redistribution. While controlling for other relevant aspects (e.g., framing, policy saliency, and the administration level at which the finances are reallocated), we conclude that once voters realize their profit from the pork-barrel politics, they tend to be less critical towards unfairness embedded in the mechanism of redistribution.
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