James Long to join UW Faculty

James Long (University of California-San Diego) is expected to receive his Ph.D. in 2012. His dissertation evaluates whether elections promote accountability in emerging democracies and concludes that unfair elections that ignore the legitimate preferences of voters undermine political accountability even when citizens cast votes based on politicians’ records rather than their identity or clientelism. Long eschews standard accounts that accountability is distorted by ethnic fragmentation. Instead, he argues that African citizens utilize a variety of information sources to inform their vote choices. Despite voters’ attempts to gain accountable representation, however, politicians frequently curtail legitimate electoral practices by manipulating the vote, particularly when they perceive voters are likely to unseat them. This, in turn, foments post-election protest and violence between party supporters, security forces, and communities. Long uses Kenya’s 2007-08 election crisis to test his argument using state of the art field experiments, focusing on voting behavior, electoral fraud, and electoral violence. His findings demonstrate that, contrary to standard accounts, Kenyans supported well-performing candidates who provided needed political and economic reforms, regardless of their ethnicity. But politicians’ inability to credibly commit to a free and fair race and a lack of an independent third party to support a credible electoral process fostered wide-spread corruption. This sparked post-election protest and violence.

Long has published in Comparative Politics and Electoral Studies and has several articles under review in prominent journals.

In addition to his work in Africa, he is working on projects in Afghanistan.