Can Television Bring Down a Dictator? Evidence from Chile’s “No” Campaign

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October 2017
Paper author(s): 
Felipe Gonzalez
Mounu Prem
Politics and Economy

Can televised political advertising change voting behavior in elections held in authoritarian regimes? We study the case of Chile, where the opposition used television campaigns weeks before the election that ended the seventeen-year dictatorship known as the Pinochet regime. Using national surveys conducted before the election and administrative electoral data, we provide evidence of a positive effect of television exposure on opposition votes. When compared to similar estimates in democracies, the effect of campaigns in Chile appear large. These results suggest that televised political campaigns can help to defeat dictators at the polls.


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