Pressure Group Strength and Political Protests
29 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 8 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2010
This paper argues that there is a curvilinear relationship between the strength of pressure groups and the frequency of anti-government protests. Weak pressure groups do not protest since they cannot win. Strong pressure groups do not protest since governments prefer to pre-empt them by modifying their policies. When pressure groups are strong enough to initiate protests but not strong enough to be confent in their future capacity for mobilization, however, any deal between the government and the potential protesters is inherently unstable, which means that an open confrontation may be the best option that pressure groups have. I test the implications of this argument using several dfferent indicators of political protests, treating union density as a proxy for pressure group strength. The predicted curvilinear relationship between pressure group strength and protest activity is stable across a range of empirical specifcations.
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