Risk and Reward: The Differential Impact of Authoritarian Elections on Regime Decay and Breakdown

39 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2010 Last revised: 4 Jan 2014

See all articles by Paul J. Schuler

Paul J. Schuler

University of Arizona

Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

Syracuse University - Department of Political Science

Francisco Cantu

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 28, 2013

Abstract

Authoritarian elections have been linked to both regime longevity and implicated in regime change, raising the question as to whether or not such elections are beneficial. This paper distinguishes between the forces leading to long term decay and those hastening immediate breakdown, arguing that while elections can prevent decay they also provide a potential spark for breakdown. To test this theory, we use a regime-month measure of elections and regime failure. The results show that while multi-party elections are linked to regime longevity they also dramatically increase the risk of democratic transition immediately following an election. These findings are an important advance on our understanding of the impact of elections under authoritarianism. They provide an explanation for seemingly divergent findings that elections cause regime failure and generate regime stability. In short, elections seem destabilizing because they are proximal to a large number of democratic transitions. However, viewed over the long-term they seem healthy for regimes.

Keywords: authoritarian elections, democratization, regime failure, regime collapse, single-party, opposition, focal point, coupe

Suggested Citation

Schuler, Paul J. and Gueorguiev, Dimitar D. and Cantu, Francisco, Risk and Reward: The Differential Impact of Authoritarian Elections on Regime Decay and Breakdown (December 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1718056 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1718056

Paul J. Schuler (Contact Author)

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

Syracuse University - Department of Political Science ( email )

100 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States
3154430309 (Phone)

Francisco Cantu

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

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