Genocidal Consolidation: Final Solutions to Elite Rivalry

Posted: 27 Sep 2015

Date Written: September 1, 2015


Authoritarian leaders sometimes unleash mass indiscriminate violence on outgroup civilians, while simultaneously purging regime elites: why do leaders simultaneously target these completely unrelated groups? Extant scholarship explains mass indiscriminate violence as a counter-guerrilla strategy. However, almost half of these episodes occur outside guerrilla conflict and have therefore been explained by attributing high-risk ideological preferences to leaders or as unique cases only. I argue that leaders under conditions of heightened elite rivalry, adopt mass indiscriminate violence against outgroup civilians to coerce ingroup civilians and local leaders into support. This allows leaders to capture state institutions from the bottom up and consolidate their power, while undermining support for elite rivals. These rivals can ultimately be purged from the regime. Based on newly collected original data on elite purges and on the type of mass indiscriminate violence for the years 1950-2004, I show that this type of violence, which I call ‘genocidal consolidation,’ is intimately connected to authoritarian consolidation.

Keywords: Mass Violence; Genocide; Indiscriminate Violence; Authoritarianism; Elite Rivalry

Suggested Citation

van der Maat, Eelco, Genocidal Consolidation: Final Solutions to Elite Rivalry (September 1, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Eelco Van der Maat (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, Zuid Holland 2300 RA

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