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

American Journal of Political Science, 61(3), 2017

44 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2017 Last revised: 5 Jul 2017

Michael Albertus

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Victor Gay

University of Chicago, Department of Economics, Students

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2017

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, democratization, formal models

Suggested Citation

Albertus, Michael and Gay, Victor, Unlikely Democrats: Economic Elite Uncertainty Under Dictatorship and Support for Democratization (July 2017). American Journal of Political Science, 61(3), 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2931962

Michael Albertus

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Victor Gay (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Chicago, IL
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/a/uchicago.edu/victorgay/

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
15
Abstract Views
95
PlumX