The Geography of Dictatorship and Support for Democracy

Mounu Prem, Pablo Muñoz, Luis R. Martınez, Felipe González, Marίa Angélica Bautista
Content Type
Working Paper
Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
We show that proximity to military bases during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990) exposed civilians to more state repression and led to (i) stronger electoral opposition to Pinochet and (ii) a long-lasting strengthening of democratic values. Our empirical strategy exploits the location of military bases during the many decades of democratic rule before the military coup, which we show is unrelated to pre-coup electoral outcomes. We find that residents of counties housing these bases both registered and voted “No” to Pinochet’s continuation in power at higher rates in the crucial 1988 plebiscite that bolstered the democratic transition. These counties also experienced more civilian deaths and forced disappearances during the dictatorship, indicating that increased exposure to repression affected voters’ behavior. After democratization, residents of these counties who were exposed to the military coup report greater support for democracy in surveys, but there are no persistent effects on electoral outcomes.
Military Affairs, Democracy, Military Intervention, Coup, Voting, Dictatorship
Political Geography
Latin America, Chile