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Laia Balcells (Georgetown University) (Webinar)

16 December 2021 @ 14:00 - 15:30


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16 December 2021
14:00 - 15:30
Event Category:
Academic Events

“Political pardons and their consequences”


Abstract: Political pardons exist as an institution in many democracies. Yet, we do not know much about how the public reacts to such pardons. Since pardons overrule judicial decisions, they could impact institutional trust or attitudes towards punitive justice. In this paper, we use an original two-wave panel survey to examine the effects of the pardon of Catalan secessionist leaders by the Spanish government in June 2021. Our design takes advantage of the fact that these pardons took place in between our two survey waves, which allows us to precisely identify individual-level effects. We find that the pardons have average negative effects on political trust (e.g., Prime Minister, Spanish Government, Courts) and, for those living outside Catalonia, on interpersonal trust. Also, we identify average positive effects on attitudes towards punitive justice and on views of the Catalan territorial conflict. At the same time, we document strong partisan divides in attitudes towards political pardons, and we find that the aforementioned effects vary significantly across partisan lines. A clear divide emerges between voters of right-wing parties (i.e., PP, Cs, VOX) and voters of left-wing and peripheral parties (i.e., Podemos, ERC, PNV, etc.). Our results have implications for political pardon as an institution, as well as for the prospects of resolution of the territorial conflict in Spain.


The paper is co-authored with Francesc Amat (Universitat de Barcelona).