Review of Sociology 28(4): 152–165. (letölthető PDF)
Incumbent party support and perceptions of corruption – an experimental study
In the recent national election in April 2018 in Hungary, the incumbent party (Fidesz) won again. During the campaign period, some of the media were full of stories about the scandals and corruption affairs of Fidesz. However, election results showed that these scandals did not decrease incumbent party support. What is the potential explanation for this? During the election campaign, we conducted an online survey experiment in Hungary, giving different treatments to respondents within the different sub-samples. The former were asked to read an article about a relevant corruption affair connected to different political actors. Our main hypothesis was that if people hear about scandals related to the government, support for the incumbent party will decrease. Results of the fitted logistic regression models suggest that information about incumbent-related corruption scandals did not affect voting for the incumbents. The most interesting result was that dominantly pro-government media consumers were more likely to vote for Fidesz after treatment compared to the control group. We thus think that the selection of information, the perceived credibility of sources, and information processing were influenced by partisanship. In a natural reaction, partisan respondents recalled their party identity and tried to respond to questions from the related viewpoints.
Keywords: corruption, information hypothesis, trade-off hypothesis, incumbent support, experimental research