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
Date Written: February 12, 2018
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: Suggested Citation