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Trust in the fight against political corruption: A survey experiment among citizens and experts

Benjamin Monnery and Alexandre Chirat

No 2023-11, EconomiX Working Papers from University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX

Abstract: In Western democracies, the last decades are characterized by a transformation of the relationship between citizens and their representatives, towards greater accountability, transparency and anti-corruption efforts. However, such evolutions are sometimes suspected of paradoxically fueling populism and reducing political trust. In this article, we investigate to what extent a new public institution in charge of monitoring the integrity of elected officials is likely to attract popular support and restore citizens' trust in democracy. We focus on France and its main anti-corruption agency, the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP), launched in 2013. We run a survey among 3,000 representative citizens and 33 experts, and augment it with an experimental treatment where we randomly provide simple, concise information on the activity and record of the HATVP. Our results first show a large divergence between the opinions of the average citizen and the much more optimistic views of experts about the state and dynamics of political integrity in France. Second, we find that citizens have highly heterogeneous beliefs and those with high political distrust are not only more likely to vote for populist candidates or abstain, but also the least informed about the anti-corruption agency. Third, our information provision experiment has meaningful, positive impacts on citizens’ perceptions of HATVP, political transparency and representative democracy. Moreover, we show that some of the largest impacts are found among initially distrustful and poorly informed citizens, stressing the potential for communication and information to change the political perceptions and attitudes of disillusioned citizens.

Keywords: integrity; corruption; political trust; populism; survey experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C99 D72 M48 P37 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2023
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-exp, nep-pol and nep-soc
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:drm:wpaper:2023-11

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