Autocratic Stability in the Shadow of Foreign Threats

55 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2019 Last revised: 14 Oct 2019

See all articles by Livio Di Lonardo

Livio Di Lonardo

Bocconi University

Jessica Sun

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, College of Literature, Science & the Arts, Department of Political Science

Scott Tyson

University of Rochester

Date Written: August 15, 2019

Abstract

Autocrats confront a number of threats to their power, some from within the regime and others from foreign actors. To understand how these threats interact and affect autocratic survival, we build a model where an autocratic leader can be ousted by a domestic opposition and a foreign actor. We concentrate on the impact that foreign threats have on the stability of autocratic leadership and show that the presence of foreign threats increase the probability an autocrat retains power. Focusing on two cases, one where a foreign actor and the domestic opposition have aligned interests, and one where their interests are misaligned, we elucidate two distinct mechanisms. First, when interests are aligned, autocrats are compelled to increase domestic security to alleviate international pressure. Second, when interests are misaligned, autocrats exploit the downstream threat of foreign intervention to deter domestic threats. We also show that autocrats have incentives to cultivate ideological views among politically influential domestic actors that are hostile to broader interests.

Keywords: Autocracy, Foreign Intervention, Repression, Regime Change

JEL Classification: D72, D74

Suggested Citation

Di Lonardo, Livio and Sun, Jessica and Tyson, Scott, Autocratic Stability in the Shadow of Foreign Threats (August 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3437859 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3437859

Livio Di Lonardo (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, Milano 20144
Italy

Jessica Sun

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, College of Literature, Science & the Arts, Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Scott Tyson

University of Rochester ( email )

Harkness Hall
333 Hutchinson Rd
Rochester, NY 14627
United States

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