Voting across divisions : how ethnicity and conflict shape political preferences in Myanmar and beyond

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In societies torn by ethnic division and armed conflict, can people's preferences converge on a national political actor? If so, what explains the variation in people's support for national governments in these settings? Using novel data and a survey in a politically fragile country, this dissertation seeks to explain the support for national governments in conflict-torn societies. In the first paper, I develop a novel method to estimate the extent to which voters vote across their ethnic identities to support a national party. I apply it to analyze Myanmar's historic 2020 elections and show that the National League for Democracy (NLD) party candidates won on average twice as much vote shares as they would have received if everyone only voted for co-ethnic candidates. In the second paper, I show that the variation in ethnic minorities' trust for Myanmar's new pro-democracy national government in exile, the National Unity Government (NUG), can be explained by the variation in their exposure to ethnic rebel governance. Results from an original online survey show that, all else equal, those with more reported exposure to positive rebel governance such as healthcare and education have lower trust for the NUG, given that the rebel is not viewed as explicitly supporting the NUG. In the last paper, I examine whether conflict outcomes can predict the changes in wartime government party vote shares before and after conflict termination, in both areas minimally and heavily affected by violence. From case by case analyses of 22 conflicts and their constituency-level election outcomes, I find some support for the claim that more victorious outcomes boost government party vote shares, although some major exceptions call for more nuanced qualification of the claim. In all, the dissertation demonstrates that people's preferences in conflict-torn and ethnically divided societies can converge on national political actors, and that this preference is moderated by people's exposure to rebel governance and their assessment of conflict outcomes.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2023; ©2023
Publication date 2023; 2023
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Kim, Jiwon Lee
Degree supervisor Fearon, James
Degree supervisor Laitin, David
Thesis advisor Fearon, James
Thesis advisor Laitin, David
Thesis advisor Prillaman, Soledad
Thesis advisor Rodden, Jonathan
Degree committee member Prillaman, Soledad
Degree committee member Rodden, Jonathan
Associated with Stanford University, School of Humanities and Sciences
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Political Science


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Jiwon Lee Kim.
Note Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.

Access conditions

© 2023 by Jiwon Lee Kim
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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