Jel Classification
D72, O55, P16
N° Pages
Is information power? Using cell phones during an election campaign

After many problematic elections in Africa during the democratization process of the 1990s and 2000s, there is growing consensus of improvements in some recent suffrages. Yet, incumbents in multiple countries have been cementing their position. That was the case of Mozambican election of 2009, where the ruling party secured 75 percent of the vote, amid clear challenges of political accountability. We conducted a field experiment based on three innovative media interventions implemented nationwide: an SMS electoral education campaign centred on participation, an SMS hotline to which citizens were able to report electoral misbehaviour and the distribution of free newspaper door-door centred on voter education. We measure the effects of these treatments by conducting representative surveys in 161 locations before and after the election. We also use a behavioural measure of political participation and measures of actual electoral problems. We find clear positive effects of all treatments on our measures of voters’ political participation and voters’ information politics. However the different treatments caused diverse effects on perceptions about electoral problems and views about authority 

Civic education, electoral politics, political economy, cell phones, randomised experiment, field experiment, Mozambique, Africa