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Religion and Political Theory: Secularism, Accommodation and The New Challenges of Religious Diversity, Edited by Jonathan Seglow and Andrew Shorten

Dynamics of Ethnic Party Competition: Security, Economic Patronage and Public Goods Provisions

Development
 
Ethnic Conflict
 
India
 
Political Competition
 
Political Parties
 
Identity
 
Experimental Design
 
Survey Research
 
Presenter
Sayan Banerjee
University of Essex
Authors
Sayan Banerjee
University of Essex

Abstract
Political parties provide public goods. In ethnically diverse democracies, such as India, what do voters want - security as a public good or economic public goods? What are the consequences of the voter demand side on ethnic party competition? Investigating to that end, the paper answers two questions: does providing security against ethnic conflict trump economic patronage offered by political parties to win elections? Second: how does ethnic heuristics affect voting behavior among low information voters in multi-ethnic democracies? The paper tests the following hypotheses: for political parties to win elections, providing security - as a public good, against violence from rival ethnic identities is a better incentive than providing narrow, particularistic economic goods. Second, candidate surnames act as a heuristic marker for voting preference. In which, a positive result would indicate that political parties in ethnically diverse democracies would be better off selecting candidates with a prominent ’ethnic marker’ which clearly reveals their ethnic identity. Conclusions are drawn from primary data gathered through field survey experiments in three Indian states - Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, over the summer of 2017. Experimental data is bolstered by historical records of election results and ethnic identities of electoral candidates. The paper also discusses challenges and lessons on utilizing survey experiments towards political opinion research in India.
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