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Regular version of the site

Article

Voting retrospectively: Critical junctures and party identification

European Economic Review. 2019. Vol. 119. P. 356-390.
Arbatli C. E., Gomtsyan D.

This paper provides evidence for retrospective voting in the very long-term by exploiting a unique quasi-natural experiment of history. We trace the origins of party identification to a critical juncture in the local history of Sasun, a mountainous region of the Ottoman Empire located in Eastern Turkey. Sasun received vital support from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) both during the Great Massacres against Armenians at the end of the 19th century and during the Armenian Genocide (1915–1917). With the help of the ARF, some of the survivors from Sasun were resettled in various villages in modern-day Armenia. Although the party was not active in Armenia during seven decades of Soviet rule, we find that villages with Sasun ancestry display substantially higher electoral support for the ARF than other villages. Evidence from first names of current residents and our field work suggest that this differential support can, at least in part, be explained by historical gratitude and sympathy for the party. We offer suggestive evidence to explain why this sympathy might have endured over generations.