State Capacity, Incumbent Turnover and Democratic Change in Authoritarian Elections
31 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 2017
Under what conditions do elections lead to democratization or conversely, sustain authoritarianism? State capacity may be a crucial intervening variable affecting the democratizing power of elections in authoritarian regimes. In regimes with limited state capacity, manipulating elections, co-opting elites, and repressing opposition is more difficult than in regimes with more extensive state capacity, rendering turnover in elections more likely in weak states. Yet, while increasing the chances of turnover, if the new incumbent has limited capacity to deliver public services and make policy changes after coming to power, democratic change is unlikely to be sustainable. Hence, state capacity may be a double-edged sword. This paper tests these expectations using Varieties of Democracy data for 460 elections in 110 authoritarian regimes from 1974 to 2012, and finds that state capacity is negatively associated with incumbent turnover but positively associated with democratic change after incumbent turnover in electoral authoritarian regimes.
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