An article by Zoltán Kmetty is published in Review of Sociology

An article by Zoltán Kmetty is published in Review of Sociology

Review of Sociology 28(4): 152–165. (letölthető PDF)

Incumbent party support and perceptions of corruption – an experimental study

Zoltán Kmetty



In the recent national election in April 2018 in Hungary, the incumbent party (Fidesz) won again. During the campaign period, some of the media were full of stories about the scandals and corruption affairs of Fidesz. However, election results showed that these scandals did not decrease incumbent party support. What is  the  potential  explanation  for  this?  During  the  election  campaign,  we  conducted  an online  survey experiment  in Hungary,  giving  different  treatments  to  respondents  within  the  different  sub-samples.  The former were asked to read an article about a relevant corruption affair connected to different political actors. Our main hypothesis  was  that  if  people  hear  about  scandals  related  to  the  government,  support  for  the incumbent party will decrease. Results of the fitted logistic regression models suggest that information about incumbent-related corruption scandals did not affect voting for the incumbents. The most interesting result was that dominantly pro-government media consumers were more likely to vote for Fidesz after treatment compared  to  the  control  group.  We  thus  think  that  the  selection  of  information,  the  perceived  credibility of  sources,  and  information  processing  were  influenced  by  partisanship.  In a natural  reaction, partisan respondents recalled their party identity and tried to respond to questions from the related viewpoints.

Keywords: corruption,  information  hypothesis,  trade-off  hypothesis,  incumbent  support,  experimental research