Meet Yunus Orhan, 2021 APSA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grantee

The American Political Science Association is pleased to announce the Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG) Awardees for 2021. The APSA DDRIG program provides support to enhance and improve the conduct of doctoral dissertation research in political science. Awards support basic research which is theoretically derived and empirically oriented.

Yunus Orhan, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Yunus Orhan is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. His research broadly focuses on political behavior in developing countries, determinants of democratic backsliding, and authoritarian survival. He is primarily interested in quantitative and experimental methods. He holds a MA in Political Science from the Istanbul Sehir University.

His dissertation project, “The Road to Democratic Backsliding: How Affective Polarization Increases Support for Illiberal Politicians?,” asks why voters vote for illiberal politicians in developing countries? He develops and empirically assess a theoretical framework to discover this puzzling support, highlighting the tradeoffs associated with punishing leaders. Yunus argues that affective polarization has become a primary factor driving democratic backsliding. To rigorously test this argument, the proposed design delineates a unique effort to manipulate affective polarization, undemocratic actions, and policy positions simultaneously. Yunus will conduct an original survey experiment on approximately 1500 respondents in Turkey in November 2021. In the treatment, he will deploy a two-stage process: (1) randomly assign a task that aims to manipulate respondent’s level of affective polarization; and (2) probe the likelihood that respondents would vote for a hypothetical candidate engages in undemocratic behavior in the next municipal election. He expects that greater levels of affective polarization will increase voters’ willingness to tolerate undemocratic positions of their party. This research will provide a deeper understanding of the factors that motivate people to support illiberal politicians and how to secure democracy.