The Effects of Repression on Opposition Under Electoral Authoritarianism: Expulsions and The Growth of German Social Democracy

38 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018 Last revised: 4 Dec 2018

See all articles by Henry Thomson

Henry Thomson

Arizona State University; Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Date Written: February 12, 2018

Abstract

Elections and repression are often seen as substitutes rather than complements, but electoral authoritarian regimes often impose physical sanctions on opposition parties and candidates. In nineteenth century Germany, legislation allowed local governments to indefinitely expel social democrats from their home districts. I estimate the effects of expulsions on electoral outcomes using a difference-in-differences research design which leverages variation in their timing and severity. I find that expulsions diminished the SPD's success at the polls. However, effects were restricted to the first election post-expulsions. I find only weak evidence that this is due to declining numbers of socialists expelled over time within districts. These findings show that authoritarian repression of opposition leaders significantly impedes electoral competition. However, they also suggest limitations of repression due to the ability of parties to adapt, avoid and respond to sanctions.

Keywords: authoritarianism, democratization, elections, democracy, social democracy, germany

JEL Classification: P16, N13, N33, N43, N93

Suggested Citation

Thomson, Henry, The Effects of Repression on Opposition Under Electoral Authoritarianism: Expulsions and The Growth of German Social Democracy (February 12, 2018). ASU Center for the Study of Economic Liberty Research Paper No. 18-3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3122883 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3122883

Henry Thomson (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

Tempe, AZ
United States

Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

United States

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