Current Institutional Affiliation
Director, Surveys & Data Analysis Unit, NYC Bureau of Epidemiology Services

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2000
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Government, Cornell University
When Democracies Elect Dictators: Motivations for and Impact of the Election of Former Authoritarians in Argentina and Bolivia

Why would voters in today's Latin American democracies cast their ballot for accused torturers, coup plotters, former military dictators, and leaders of executive coups? What impact do the former authoritarians have on democracy once they are in office? I plan to research these questions in Argentina. First, I will finish the interviews with politicians that I have begun during my year of SSRC Predissertation funding. I will analyze the policy promises that the politicians are making to their constituents and the ways in which they present themselves and their parties in political campaigns. Next, I will carry out in-depth case studies of five parties led by former authoritarians, in order to analyze whether, once elected, these politicos invest in democracy, subvert democracy, or prioritize economic stability, low crime, and low corruption, and fail to guarantee civil liberties and well-functioning democratic institutions. Finally, I will conduct a public opinion survey (N=600) of four provinces in which citizens have been voting for parties run by leaders of the former military regime. I will try to understand why some voters found the campaign appeals of the former authoritarians more attractive than those of mainstream politicians. I will also inquire into which kinds of behavior on the part of politicians voters approve and disapprove of, in order to evaluate whether voters prioritize economic stability, low crime, and low corruption more than civil liberties and well-functioning democratic institutions. I have established an institutional affiliation with the Instituto Gino Germani, at the University of Buenos Aires as my academic support base for the project.