The Political Economics of Non-democracy
55 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 6, 2020
We survey recent theoretical and empirical literature on political economy of non-democracies. Dictators face many challenges to their rule: internal, such as palace coups or breakdown of their support coalition, or external, such as mass protests or revolutions. We analyze strategic decisions made by dictators — hiring political loyalists to positions that require competence, restricting media freedom at the cost of sacrificing bureaucratic efficiency, running a propaganda campaign, organizing electoral fraud, purging associates and opponents, and repressing citizens — as driven by the desire to maximize the regime’s chances of staying in power. We argue that the key to understanding the functioning and ultimately the fate of a nondemocratic regime is the information flows within the regime, and the institutions that govern these information flows.
Keywords: nondemocratic politics, authoritarianism, dictatorship, bureaucracy, electoral fraud, protests, revolutions, coup d’etat, media freedom, propaganda, censorship, repressions, institutionalized ruling party
JEL Classification: P16, D74, D72, D82, C73, D83
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