Turkey: A Nation of Joiners

(Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Candas Pinar, PhD candidate in Sociology at Yale University, focusing on state-society relations and political demography in the Muslim Middle East.)

Given the sheer breadth and volume of demonstrators and the rapid proliferation of political slogans across social media platforms, the Occupy Gezi movement would have us think that political engagement has always thrived in Turkey. But that hasn’t always been the case.

The United States has traditionally been described as “a nation of joiners,” a phrase used by Alexis de Tocqueville to capture the willingness of American citizens to form and join associations. Turkey, on the other hand? Not so much.

For decades, academics and policymakers have underscored the importance of a vibrant civil society for viable democracy. In the 1960s, Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba argued that the vitality of democratic institutions is dependent on a robust “civic culture,” which entails “civic cooperation and trust,” “expectation of fair treatment from government authorities,” “an emotional involvement in elections,” and “self-confidence in one’s competence to participate in politics.” More recently, Robert Putnam has written that “networks of organized reciprocity and civic solidarity” are what sustain democracies.

And for equally as long, these academics and policymakers have bemoaned the lack of such a civil society in Turkey. A 2011 report, prepared by the Third Sector Foundation in Turkey and CIVICUS, revealed alarmingly low rates of civic engagement in Turkey. In the past five years, only 12% of Turks engaged in political activism (e.g., signing a petition or attending a peaceful demonstration). And just 5% of Turks are members of civil society organizations, such as youth groups or trade unions. It was widely believed that democracy in Turkey could not take hold until citizens became involved.

Many point to the 1980 military coup as the cause of this widespread political disengagement. The coup came after more than a decade of sustained clashes between labor activists and student movements on the left and Islamists and ultra-nationalist groups on the right. Leftists and laborers sought to liberate Turkey from what they considered to be an unhealthy dependence on the capitalist West, and adopted guerrilla warfare to do so. Right-wing youth groups retaliated in kind, targeting schools and homes of prominent intellectuals. In total, approximately 5,000 lives were lost to the conflict.

During this period, the country was paralyzed. Martial law was declared and renewed every few months. Strict curfews were enforced. Universities across the country were shut down. In the name of “law and order,” the government banned all student groups, as well as teachers’ unions. The country was so divided that even a man’s facial hair revealed his political leanings (mustache = left-wing; sideburns = right-wing).

It was around this time that my own parents chose to emigrate to the U.S. to seek respite from the chaos. As university students, they were in the thick of it, whether they wanted to be or not. Their classes were often abruptly canceled because professors had been arrested. Social gatherings on campus were often forcibly dismissedwith gunfire. Childhood friends went missing, and resurfaced after years of imprisonment or torture. The military coup in 1980 brought an end to the civil unrest, but at great cost.

After the coup, parents strongly discouraged their children from becoming involved in politics. In the wake of such national turmoil, political activism – beyond the casting of a ballot – was thought to be dangerous and divisive. Not unlike personal traumas, national traumas stay with people. They become embedded in the collective consciousness of a nation. What happened in the ‘60s and ‘70s was not just an individual memory of those who experienced it, but a collective memory. Personal experiences with political activism – and the often deadly consequences it entailed – were transmitted from generation to generation, through story-telling, music, literature, and film.

Among subsequent generations, civic engagement and political participation dwindled. University students and leftists groups continued to organize annual Labor Day protests in Taksim Square, but most everyone else was too frightened or too disillusioned to engage.

Until now.

After riot police cracked down on peaceful protesters in Gezi Park more than two weeks ago, Turks were enraged. They cried. They shouted. And they joined.

Environmentalists joined. College students and their professors joined. Marxists, Kurds, and Alevis joined. Rowdy football fans not only joined; they mobilized. Doctors, lawyers, artists, and musicians all joined. Mothers and fathers joined. Grandmothers and grandfathers joined too. My mother – who was once so traumatized by what she had witnessed as a student – joined, in her own capacity. She attended a demonstration in Rhode Island, where my parents live now.

Images, videos, and anecdotes from Taksim Square continue to proliferate across social media sites. They reveal a strong and merciless state apparatus – police brutality against peaceful demonstrators, silencing of domestic and international media, and the detention of lawyers and doctors attempting to provide assistance to protestors. But they have also revealed an equally strong, revitalized civic culture in Turkey. Protestors, from all walks of life, organized trash disposal and street sweeping; provided urgent healthcare delivery for injured people, veterinary services for injured animals, and legal counsel for those detained; circulated and signed petitions; and held public piano concerts and yoga sessions. These are all concrete manifestations of the social cooperation and trust characteristic of an engaged civil society. We can still talk about the strong state in Turkey, but we can no longer call the civil society weak. No longer can we point to a disengaged public as the barrier to democratization in Turkey.

It’s still unclear what triggered the Occupy Gezi movement. Was it the park? The alcohol?

And we still don’t know how it will end. This past weekend in Istanbul has showcased the lengths the state is willing to go to in order to silence opposing perspectives. EU Minister Egemen Bagis and Prime Minister Erdogan have called the demonstrators “terrorists.” Reports of a draft law intended to limit social media content are emerging. And riot police, under government instruction, continue to disregard basic democratic principles, such as due process and medical neutrality. The current scene is beginning to look eerily similar to what happened four decades ago.

This is a dark chapter in Turkey’s history. But let us take a moment to recognize that the Occupy Gezi movement is testament to the renewed will of the Turkish people to engage, to care, to protest. Demonstrators continue to regroup in any alleyway or street corner that has been cleared of tear gas, and this shows that one thing is clear. Turkey is now, undeniably, a nation of joiners.


What We’re Reading

  • Joshua Foust delves into the Bradley Manning court-martial and reveals some fascinating insight into the proceedings, Wikileaks, and the man on trial. Foust’s final, depressing conclusion: “It says something about the world that such a tiny organization can create such disruption yet face so few consequences. In its wake, Wikileaks has left a trail of upended lives — including Bradley Manning’s. It will be sad to see such a troubled, fascinating young man be thrown into prison at the age of twenty-five, but that is the bed he made. It is approaching time for him to lie in it.”
  • Seyla Benhabib on Erdogan’s culture war against Turkish secularism and the growing illiberalism of Turkish democracy: “This moral micromanagement of people’s private lives comes amid an increasingly strident government assault on political and civil liberties. Turkey’s record on journalistic and artistic freedoms is abysmal; rights of assembly and protest are also increasingly restricted.”
  • Pakistan analyst Imtiaz Gul speaks of the difficulties ahead for Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, including normalizing relations with the U.S.
  • Women, family and academia: not an easy combination. “Our most important finding has been that family negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, early academic careers. Furthermore, academic women who advance through the faculty ranks have historically paid a considerable price for doing so, in the form of much lower rates of family formation, fertility, and higher rates of family dissolution. For men, however, the pattern has been either neutral or even net-positive.”
  • The season of inspiring commencement speeches is upon us. Ben Bernanke at Princeton.

What We’re Reading

  • One of the most high-profile and devastating attacks by Indian Maoists occurred on the 25th of May, killing and injuring many Congress leaders, including the founder of Salwa Judum, a pro-government paramilitary force that fast gained notoriety for its abuses against civilians. Tusha Mittal at Tehelka highlights the ruthlessness of this militia after her trek into Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, the states which contain the heartland of the insurgency.
  • A Pakistani version of TV series Glee will hit local TV channels in the fall. “Like its smash hit forerunner, ‘Taan’ follows the lives and loves of a group of young people who regularly burst into song. But this time they attend a music academy in Lahore, instead of an American high school.” Plotlines include “love affairs between two men and between a Taliban extremist and a beautiful Christian girl.”
  • There’s a lot of work on unit cohesion and combat effectiveness. Probably less work on wife-swapping and combat effectiveness. Some in the Indian Navy may be exploring the topic.
  • Poverty ex machina? “A typical poor person is poor not because he is irresponsible, but because he was born in Africa.”
  • And, on the same topic, Matt Yglesias details the results of an experiment run by Chris Blattman, Nathan Fiala and Sebastian Martinez in Uganda. “Money with no strings attached not only directly raises the living standards of those who receive it, but it also increases hours worked and labor productivity, seemingly laying the groundwork for growth to come.”
  • Cass Sunstein describes the biggest Supreme Court decision you haven’t heard of, which increases executive power and the power and strength of Obamacare.
  • Is the Syrian Civil War the Spanish Civil War of our time? Harvey Morris examines the historical dangers of intervention and non-intervention in civil wars. The critical part of the analogy is whether the non-influence of Western democracies opens up room for the influence of other parties. It remains to be seen whether anyone is as interested in Syria as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were in Spain but some elements, namely Iran’s continued support of the Assad regime and Turkish and Saudi support of more extreme parts of the opposition, demand at least some consideration for the analogy. In any case, I doubt J.K. Rowling will be going to fight against tyranny in Syria.

What We’re Reading

In this new (regular) feature, we will be providing a round-up of what we at The Smoke-Filled Room have been reading that seems interesting and especially germane to the problems of contemporary political science. We’ve noticed that other blogs regularly include links to interesting content they’ve found on the web, and we’ve decided to shamelessly follow that example. Like good academics avoiding our own work, we have eclectic reading habits, as you will no doubt come to see. So, what we’re reading this week:

  • Albert Hirschman lived a more interesting life than most social scientists. “In dealing with events during the difficult period between 1935 and 1938, Hirschman… decided to fight in the Spanish civil war against Franco with the very first Italian and German volunteers, some of whom were killed on the battlefield. For the rest of his life, Hirschman remained entirely silent about this experience, even with his wife, though ‘the scars on his neck and leg made it impossible for her to forget.’ Returning from the war, he worked closely with the anti-Fascist Italian underground, carrying secret letters and documents back and forth from Paris.”
  • Patrick Cockburn provides an excellent account of the war in Syria, which “no one” is winning, in the London Review of Books.
  • Jeffrey Lewis decides to pivot from a technical topic, the overhyped threat of electromagnetic pulses, to questions of threat inflation and isolationism. “One of the criticisms of the Bush administration’s preemptive doctrine was its ‘unilateralism.’ Well, unilateralism is just isolationism on steroids.”
  • Jane Mayer, Human Rights Watch’s John Sifton and Ross Douthat offer their thoughts on President Obama’s National Defense University speech.
  • Check out the funky cover art on this old CIA study of the 1962 China-India War.
  • Boiling over: Sweden finally has to deal with two decades’ worth of inadequate immigrant integration policies. Colin Freeman with a nice take in The Telegraph.
  • Shikha Dalmia blames the harassment faced by women in India (“eve teasing”) on “free-floating male libido with no socially acceptable outlet.”
  • On the naming of American bases: “Fort Lee, in Virginia, is of course named for Robert E. Lee, a man widely respected for his integrity and his military skills…[yet] he was responsible for the deaths of more Army soldiers than Hitler and Tojo.”
  • Turkey’s Parliament is debating a bill to restrict the selling of alcohol. Domestic critics have suggested that the bill’s supporters are pushing an Islamist agenda. However, as Marya Hannun points out, this is not dissimilar to alcohol sale restrictions in Texas. As some of the supporters of the bill point out, it is also not dissimilar to alcohol sale restrictions in Sweden. Coincidentally, Swedish restrictions, which have progressively loosened over time, are directly related to the strong influence of religious temperance movements upon the Swedish Social Democratic Party, which  dominated Swedish politics for most of the 20th century. So perhaps the Sweden comparison is not one Turkish pro-restriction politicians should make.

The Smoke-Filled Room at Midwest Political Science Association

Four of The Smoke-Filled Room’s contributors will be presenting their papers at the Midwest Political Science Association conference starting today. We’ve pasted the paper abstracts below.

Matt Eckel: “Nationalism, Chauvinism and Inequality: Skewed Incomes, Political Elites, and the Political Economy of Xenophobia” (Panel: Thursday, April 11 12:45 pm, 21-4, Who Are We?: The Politics of Defining National Identity)

Does inequality increase the intensity of chauvinist politics? There has been substantial recent work relating socio-economic inequality to a host of political outcomes, including redistribution, partisan polarization and popular nationalist sentiment. The relationship of inequality to nationalism, in particular, has been an object of inquiry in recent years, with studies finding that unequal societies tend to have more nationalist populations. Other work on inequality and redistributive outcomes has emphasized complex dynamics through which the specific shape of income distributions shapes voter and elite incentives. In this paper I test whether there is evidence that inequality leads political elites to mobilize constituencies with more intense ethnically and culturally chauvinist appeals in order to maintain status-quo socio-economic realities. Using time series cross sectional data on inequality in OECD countries as well as measures of nationalism drawn from the Comparative Party Manifesto dataset, I find evidence that political appeals become more nationalist and chauvinist as societies become more unequal.

To download paper: http://conference.mpsanet.org/Online/Search.aspx?session=2557

Matt Scroggs: “Creating a Balance: Great Power Politics and Regional Integration” (Panel: Thursday, April 11, 12:45-2:25, 8-3, Causes and Consequences of European Integration)

Many consider the success of the European Union to be a major blow against power-based accounts of international relations, namely realism. While there have been some attempts at applying realist theory towards European integration, namely Grieco’s “voice opportunity thesis” and Rosato’s balance of power argument, this paper will challenge the logics of both these works, as well as the liberal case put forth by Moravcsik, and will instead contrast the role of power politics and grand strategy that led to integration in Western Europe to Eastern Europe and East Asia where no such integration occurred, according to the interests of the U.S. and Soviet Union. That role, I contend, is consistent with the “realist” approach.

Natalia S. Bueno and Thad Dunning: “Race, Class, and Representation: Evidence from Brazilian Politicians” (Panel: Sunday, April 14, 8:30 am, Representation and Social Identities in Developing Countries)


A persistent racial gap between Brazilian citizens and their elected politicians raises the possibility of important failures of descriptive as well as substantive representation—failures that are especially puzzling in the context of Brazil’s alleged “racial democracy” as well as electoral institutions that should be favorable to racial inclusiveness. This paper uses new, original data to document for the first time the size of this representational gap. We then explore several alternative explanations for it. First, drawing on an experiment in which the race and class background of faux candidates for city council are varied at random, we find some class effects but no discernible effects of candidates’ race on voters’ support for them. Thus, the representational gap may not be readily explained by race-based voter preferences or by a failure to politicize a latent racial cleavage. Next, we explore but reject several possible institutional explanations, including discrimination by party elites and electoral rules that foster or inhibit candidate entry along racial lines. Our evidence instead suggests the importance of race-associated resource disparities that are also strongly related to electoral victory. While the mechanism through which personal assets may shape electoral outcomes should be further explored in future research, our evidence suggests the enduring importance of resource inequalities in explaining failures of descriptive representation.

Nikolay Marinov and William G. Nomikos: “Electoral Proximity and Security Policy” (Panel: Sunday, April 14, 8:30 AM, 17-14, Democracies and International Security)

How do approaching elections a ffect the security policy states conduct? While international relations has paid some attention to this issue, existing theoretical work is scattered among many disparate arguments and the evidence does not allow researchers to identify causal relationships. We improve on both points. We identify the problem faced by democratic policy-makers near elections as a time-inconsistency problem. The time-inconsistency problem arises when the costs and benefi ts of policy are not realized at the same time, giving rise to electoral business cycles in security policy. We apply the argument to the case of allied troop contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom (“OEF”) and the International Security Assistance Force (“ISAF”) mission in Afghanistan. The exogenous timing of elections allows us to identify the causal eff ect of approaching elections on troop levels. Our fi nding of signi ficantly lower troop contributions, in the order of approximately 10 percent, near elections, is the first arguably identif ed e ffect of electoral proximity on security policy. We discuss the role of election-related incentives in eliciting suboptimal security behavior from democratic policy-makers.

In Syria, Don’t “Give War a Chance”

Editor’s note: the following is a piece by The Smoke-Filled Room contributor Lionel Beehner that originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

News that the White House nixed a plan last summer to arm the Syrian rebels was attributed to election-year politics. But maybe the administration’s decision not to intervene was motivated by other impulses. On one hand, there is concern that the conflict in Syria could spill across its borders and export sectarian violence to neighbors like Jordan or Lebanon. On the other, there are those that might like to see a bludgeoned and weaker Syria emerge from the wreckage.

A weakened Syria, this theory goes, would mean less ability of Syria to carry out political assassinations in Lebanon, act as a conduit for arms for Hezbollah or home of groups like Hamas, and serve as an ally to Iran. War is bad, but there are undoubtedly some voices in Israel and the United States, among other places (like Turkey or Saudi Arabia), that might like to “give war a chance.” Or at least allow for a bit more bloodletting, the better to weaken Iran’s position in the region and prevent a postwar Syria – regardless of whether the rebels or regime emerges victorious – from continuing its prewar policies of being an exporter of instability. As Yitzhak Laor wrote last summer in Haaretz, “That’s why the United States is in no hurry to intervene … It’s looking for an effective dictatorship. Not another ‘Iraqi democracy.’ Meanwhile, let them bleed.”

In terms of the scale of bloodshed, Syria obviously does not compare to wartime Europe. But similar dynamics played out among some powers in the early 1940s that preferred to see Germany and the USSR bleed themselves to death, before intervening to end the war. Harry Truman, before he was president, proclaimed in 1941 that “if we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible.” Similarly, after Lenin pulled Russia out of World War I, he said “In concluding a separate peace now, we rid ourselves…of both imperialistic groups fighting each other.”

The phrase “give war a chance,” of course, is a loaded one whose Balkans origins in the 1990s describe the interference of international peacekeepers to impose a settlement to temporarily staunch the bloodshed, but with the unintended consequence of allowing the warring parties to rearm and thus live to fight another day. Such an imposed peace does two things: It prevents the war from playing itself out to see a clear victor emerge; and it unwillingly extends the war by buying time for the belligerents to rest and rearm themselves. Andrew Tabler and Bilal Saab,writing in Foreign Affairs, have resurrected this phrase by suggesting that a decisive rebel victory should prevail over a negotiated settlement.

But that could last years, as the war ledger in Syria is unlikely to tip in the rebels’ favor barring greater international support. Outside of Ankara, there has been little clamoring for a military intervention, much less a more limited show of force, such as a Libya-style no-fly zone. Which is perplexing, given France’s recent successful, if limited, military intervention in Mali and NATO’s success in Libya at ridding the world of Qaddafi. Obviously both interventions were far from perfect (let’s not rehash Benghazi here). But one has to assume that powerful forces are blocking Western intervention in Syria, using the convenient straw-man argument that the Russians and Chinese are blocking any meaningful action in the UN Security Council (especially since such objections did not prevent NATO from intervening in Kosovo in May 1999). One has to conclude that there are privately held views that Syria should get the wrecking-ball treatment as a way of shifting the regional balance of power in favor of the United States and Israel and against Iran. Call it the St. Augustine strategy: Lord, make Syria peaceful, but not yet.

Of course, much in the region still remains in flux. For instance, it is unclear which side of the power ledger Iraq or Egypt falls, given that both are improving ties with Tehran. Would a Sunni-dominated Syria remain an ally of Iran or Hezbollah? Would it seek closer ties with Iraq? Also, what would Syrian-Israeli relations resemble, given Israel’s recent alleged bombing of a research facility outside of Damascus? Finally, up until the war began in March 2011, Syria’s relations with the US had been warming. Is Washington privately seeking a weakened Syria, regardless of who wins the war, in the hopes of keeping Syria out of Lebanon and denying Iran its most important ally in the region?

Nobody knows. The trouble with any kind of bloodletting policy is threefold: First, it is a form of collective punishment strategy, since the bulk of the victims are Syrian civilians, many of whom never favored the Assad’s killing of Lebanese politicians or partnering with Iran. Most Syrians I’ve met in my past visits seek warmer relations with the West, are suspicious of Iran, and do not wake up in the morning wishing Israel off the map or murmuring “Death to America.” Second, this kind of strategy could easily backfire, as it will only create resentment among those Syrians in the crosshairs of this war who we should be protecting, push them into the hands of Islamist, and needlessly radicalize them to be distrustful of us (and at worst, hate us). Third, as Thucydides warned, the longer a war drags on, the greater the chances for accidents or improbable events to occur. A devastated Syria might weaken Iran’s position in the Middle East in the near term, but the longer-term consequences could make the Syrian civil war a seminal event by virtue of its duration. Just as the long civil war after the fall of Saddam in 2003 ignited Shiite and Sunni tensions beyond Iraq’s borders, a similar dynamic and cycle of revenge killings could (and already is, to some degree) erupt in the region, the longer the war drags on.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the actual motivation of outside powers is that Syria, unlike Mali or Libya, is too messy a place to intervene on the cheap. Maybe there is a real sense that for a postwar government to have any legitimacy, the Syrian rebels should “own” the outcome and win the war themselves, rather than allow some English-speaking Syrian Chalabi-type being installed by the West. Maybe the Venn diagram of idealists and realists in Washington overlap on Syria – the latter not viewing the war as a vital security concern, while the former sees an intervention as having imperial overtones.

Beyond its obvious normative implications, such a strategy of letting the war play out to its end will invariably produce a bad outcome beyond our control, a postwar Syria of resentful citizens and ruined cities, and a regional dynamic that may or may not favor the balance of power in our favor. Nor is it clear that a weakened Syria, particularly if Assad remains in power, might not seek to intervene in places like Lebanon even more to settle old scores or distract Syrians from their postwar woes.

Hence, an 11th-hour intervention by the West after years of bloodletting will backfire. We should seek to end the war immediately, not after Syria is reduced to ruin, even if there is no clear victor.

Guest Post: Understanding Attitudes Toward Corruption

By Nara Pavão*

Brazil very recently hosted the trial of the century, in which important politicians were accused of, and convicted for, their involvement in a large-scale corruption scandal allegedly concocted by some of the most important politicians of the Workers’ Party (PT). The scheme supposedly consisted of the exchange of legislative support for a big monthly payment. This unprecedented event – the trial and conviction of the nation’s foremost politicians –  has brought the topic of corruption to the center of public debate. Although the Supreme Court has convicted these politicians, not all citizens who have thoughtfully assessed the case agree with the ruling. The unique nature of the judgment, a singular case in the juridical history of the country, has generated controversy and disagreement, a clear indication that interpretations of information about corruption are not as homogenous or simplistic as some would have us believe. While some Brazilians were persuaded by the information surrounding the scandal—accusations, media reports, and proper evidence—other citizens were skeptical of this information and continued to believe in the innocence of the politicians.

When investigating what leads voters to take action against corrupt politicians, the rather scarce literature on the topic, generated primarily from the field of political science, calls attention to the notion of a lack of information: voters support corrupt politicians because they lack sufficient information about these politicians’ misdeeds. The reality is, however, far more complex. From the standpoint of voting behavior, we should expect a more multifaceted account of attitude formation. Why should information about politicians’ involvement in corruption automatically translate into negative attitudes toward corrupt politicians? What if individuals have different levels of tolerance for corruption? What if they interpret information about corruption differently, becoming more or less likely to be persuaded to believe in the accusation?

Because ready availability of information is referred to as an “antidote” to political corruption (Winters, Testa, and Fredrickson 2012), little is known about what induces voters to make informed decisions to support corrupt politicians. Similarly, we know very little about how information about corruption translates into attitudes toward corruption. We know even less about the factors that may moderate the impact of information about corruption on individuals’ attitudes.

Opinion data from Brazil offers us some basis to begin thinking more comprehensively about the question of tolerance toward corruption and about the real role of information in leading citizens to adopt less tolerant attitudes toward corruption.

As we begin thinking in this vein, we should consider one surprising finding: the percentage of survey respondents who admit that they tolerate corruption is striking, particularly if we consider that social desirability bias is affecting their answers (the socially desirable attitude is to not tolerate corruption).

 Avaliação do Presidente Lula, do Congresso e outros assuntos, 2005. DATAFOLHA

Furthermore, according to an opinion poll conducted in 2005 in Brazil, those who sympathize with the Workers Party tend to be more informed about the corruption accusations against their preferred party; nevertheless, they are precisely the ones who believe that there is less corruption in Lula’s government than evidenced. According to the same data, information about corruption (both awareness about the corruption scandals and the extent to which the individual is informed about the scandals) does not predict citizens’ tolerance for corruption.

Avaliação do Presidente Lula, do Congresso e outros assuntos, 2005. DATAFOLHA

Inconclusive though it may be, this data should stimulate us to think more about attitudes toward corruption not only in Brazil but elsewhere. The challenge is to move the debate beyond lack of information to the problem of how citizens react to corruption and the extent to which they are willing to take action against corrupt politicians. Perhaps disseminating information about corruption and increasing transparency—initiatives perceived as essential to good governance—are not the sole antidotes to corruption in politics. Rather, the remedy may depend on something we still lack: a comprehensive understanding of citizens’ real attitudes toward corruption and how information about corruption scandals impact such attitudes.

Editor’s note: Nara Pavão is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. She specializes in Comparative Politics and conducts research on public opinion, voting behavior, and corruption in Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia.