Unlikely Democrats: Economic Elite Uncertainty Under Dictatorship and Support for Democratization

Forthcoming, American Journal of Political Science

41 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2016

See all articles by Michael Albertus

Michael Albertus

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Victor Gay

Toulouse School of Economics; Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 3, 2016

Abstract

Influential recent scholarship assumes that authoritarian rulers act as perfect agents of economic elites, foreclosing the possibility that economic elites may at times prefer democracy absent a popular threat from below. Motivated by a puzzling set of democratic transitions, we relax this assumption and examine how elite uncertainty about dictatorship – a novel and generalizable causal mechanism impacting democratization – can induce elite support for democracy. We construct a noisy signaling model in which a potential autocrat attempts to convince economic elites that he will be a faithful partner should elites install him in power. The model generates clear predictions about how two major types of elite uncertainty – uncertainty in a potential autocratic successor's policies produced by variance in the pool of would-be dictator types, and uncertainty in the truthfulness of policy promises made by potential autocratic successors – impact the likelihood of elite-driven democratization. We demonstrate the model's plausibility in a series of cases of democratic transition.

Keywords: dictatorship, elites, democratic transition

Suggested Citation

Albertus, Michael and Gay, Victor, Unlikely Democrats: Economic Elite Uncertainty Under Dictatorship and Support for Democratization (June 3, 2016). Forthcoming, American Journal of Political Science. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2789855

Michael Albertus (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Victor Gay

Toulouse School of Economics ( email )

Place Anatole-France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

HOME PAGE: http://victorgay.me

Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse ( email )

31015 Toulouse, Cedex 6
France

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