Participation Dilemma: The Logic of Voter Turnout in Authoritarian Elections

51 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018

See all articles by Navid Hassanpour

Navid Hassanpour

School of Political Science, Higher School of Economics

Date Written: February 1, 2018

Abstract

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

Hassanpour, Navid, Participation Dilemma: The Logic of Voter Turnout in Authoritarian Elections (February 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3116584 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3116584

Navid Hassanpour (Contact Author)

School of Political Science, Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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