Elections in Non-Democracies

48 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2014 Last revised: 15 May 2018

See all articles by Georgy Egorov

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2018


Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of a democratic system, but elections are common in other regimes as well. Such an election might be a pure farce, with the incumbents getting close to 100% of the vote. In other instances, incumbents allow opposition candidates to be on the ballot and run campaigns, limit electoral fraud, e.g., by inviting international observers, all to make elections appear fair. In our model, the incumbent is informed about his popularity, and having a fair election allows him to signal his popularity to the people. After casting their vote, heterogeneous citizens decide whether or not to participate in a protest, and they are more willing to do so if they expect others to protest as well. We demonstrate theoretically that regimes that have a high level of elite repression are less likely to have fair elections, but regimes with a high cost of protesting for ordinary citizens make fair elections more likely. These findings are consistent with empirical evidence we provide.

Keywords: non-democratic politics, dictatorship, elections, fraud, protests, revolutions, signaling

JEL Classification: H00, D72, D82

Suggested Citation

Egorov, Georgy and Sonin, Konstantin, Elections in Non-Democracies (April 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2497277 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2497277

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Konstantin Sonin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

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