Establishing Responsive Linkages between Politicians and Voters
We partner with provincial legislators in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan to test whether integrated voice response (IVR) technology can springboard communication between politicians and voters and thereby improve accountability, responsiveness, and development. IVR allows politicians to record messages in their own voice and deliver them via robocalls; citizens can then respond to questions posed by pressing keys on their phones. The first stage of the experiment randomizes (at the household level) politician robocalls and elicitation of voter preferences. Stage two provides aggregated citizen preferences to the politicians, and randomizes (at the polling station level) a responsive call from the politician that is either generic or specific to the feedback received. We examine if either or both of these stages improve citizen trust in and engagement with government, political efficacy, support for the politician, and ability to sanction poorly performing representatives. The experiment offers legislators a direct channel to voters, bypassing traditional local elites and reducing the need for corruption and vote-buying.