A new study finds that incumbent parties lose votes after their citizens get online
THE EARLY days of the internet were full of predictions about access to information unleashing a wave of democratisation. More recently, views on the internet’s impact have soured, as states use it to spy on dissidents and influence foreign elections.
Opinions on this topic are abundant, but hard data are scarce. No one knows whether the Arab spring could have occurred without the internet, or whether Russia’s online efforts to boost President Donald Trump’s campaign had any effect. Nonetheless, scholars can sometimes find natural experiments to substitute for such counter-factual scenarios. A recently revised study by the economists Sergei Guriev, Nikita Melnikov and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, which is now undergoing peer review, uses the growth of mobile broadband to reveal a link between internet access and scepticism of government.