Disasters can be good for incumbent governments. Amidst an emergency, budgets can be revised and reallocated in a hurry, framing the government as a ‘saviour,’ issuing contracts to the government’s business clientele and/or prioritising the electoral base more than the victims. Thus elected officials can curry favour with voters and increase their chances of retaining their seats. We examine this claim in the context of Albania, a middle-income country with weak public institutions. We show that the relief for two calamities, a destructive earthquake in 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic, was used by the government to mobilise votes, thereby increasing the likelihood of electoral success in 2021. Both earthquake relief funding and Covid-19 vaccination rates spiked right before the elections only to drop soon afterwards. This phenomenon, known as the Electoral Politics of Disaster (EPD), poses a risk for the national economy, public health, spatial planning and democracy.
To cite this article:
Drini Imami, Dorina Pojani, Elvina Merkaj, Electoral Politics of Disaster: how earthquake and pandemic relief was used to earn votes, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 2022;, rsac042, https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsac042