Whom to Elect? Causes of Elections in Nondemocracies
30 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 4, 2014
Studies have been accumulated that explore the role of contested elections in nondemocratic settings. Yet, they yield both the regime-sustaining role and the regime-subverting role, leading to unclear and equivocal explanations of the causes of those elections. In order to better understand when and why dictators decide to hold elections, I argue that the distinction should be made between the types of elections since the different types of elections correspond with those who get elected. On the one hand, elections for the effective executive are intended to prevent violent ouster of dictators, and thereby can work as an institutionalized mean of leadership succession. On the other hand, legislative elections select regime allies and are primarily aimed at co-optation and elite unity. On a sample of dictatorships from 1946--2008, I found strong support for my theory about the causes of contested elections. This finding sheds new light on the dictators' decision of holding elections and has important implications for the study of authoritarian politics.
Keywords: Dictatorships, nondemocratic regimes, elections
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