Participation Dilemma: The Logic of Voter Turnout in Authoritarian Elections
51 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 1, 2018
Why do the electorate vote or abstain from voting under competitive authoritarianism? Elite rent seeking and rent distribution are recognized as main determinants of turnout in authoritarian elections, but the logic of voting decision on the side of an oppositional electorate remains understudied. I argue that when the discontent majority's cooperation is needed for producing spoils, the opposition are more likely to participate in authoritarian voting, expecting a credible rent sharing scheme afterwards. Collaborative rent generation and rent sharing schemes consolidate when highly skilled labor becomes indispensable to the authorities; such schemes break down when a resource-based economy takes hold. District-level data from a pervasive modernizing intervention in Iran, The White Revolution, between 1954 and 1975, while demonstrating signs of a resource curse on turnout, show rising literacy to exert a robustly significant and positive effect on turnout under authoritarianism, hence confirming the predictions of the authoritarian turnout model herein.
Keywords: Authoritarian Elections, Cooptation, Development, Education, Iranian Politics, Rent Sharing, Resource Curse, Voter Turnout
JEL Classification: C23, D72, J11, N35
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation