DOES FIGHTING CORRUPTION LEGITIMIZE A DECLINE IN DEMOCRACY? An experimental field study on how corruption affects democratic values in Mexico City
An experimental field study on how corruption affects democratic values in Mexico City
Recently, Mexico witnessed a historic election where Andrés López Obrador won the presidency in a landslide victory making him the most powerful president Mexico has seen in decades. With eradication of corruption at the top of his priority list in his attempt to transform the country, he indeed beholds a wide public support. However, experts have expressed doubtfulness about whether his methods are fully democratic. It appears that Mexico can be in the risk zone for what scholars have referred to as ‘democratic backsliding’. Although the literature on subject is comprehensive, there is a scarcity of studies that examine why these limitations of democracy often behold public support. This study draws on the literature on Quality of Government’s effect on satisfaction with, and support for, democracy, which finds that corruption has a statistically significant negative effect both on the satisfaction with, and the support for, democracy. Corruption is therefore in this study tested as a, in people’s opinions, legitimizing reason for the president to make restrictions in democracy. To examine this possible correlation, a quantitative survey experiment was conducted in Mexico City. The results of this study show a significant positive correlation; fighting corruption increases people’s willingness to compromise with democracy. This would mean that, in addition to affect the satisfaction with democracy, corruption erodes democratic values, making citizens willing to accept limitations of democracy in their own country.