Disinformation and Episodes of Regime Transformation

44 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2023

See all articles by Yuko Sato

Yuko Sato

V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg

Felix Wiebrecht

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute

Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg - Varieties of Democracy Institute; University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science

V-Dem Institute

Varieties of Democracy Institute

Date Written: September 11, 2023

Abstract

Disinformation has transformed into a global issue and while it is seen as a growing concern to democracy today, autocrats have long used it as a part of their propaganda repertoire. Yet, no study has tested the effect of disinformation on regime breakdown and stability beyond country-specific studies.

Drawing on novel measures from the Digital Society Project (DSP) estimating the levels of disinformation disseminated by governments across 179 countries between 2000-2022 and from the Episodes of Regime Transformation (ERT) dataset, we provide the first global comparative study of disinformation and survival of democratic and authoritarian regimes, respectively.

The results show that in authoritarian regimes, disinformation helps rulers to stay in power as regimes with higher levels of disinformation are less likely to experience democratization episodes. In democracies, on the other hand, disinformation increases the probability of autocratization onsets. As such, this study is the first to provide comparative evidence on the negative effects of disinformation on democracy as well as on the prospects of democratization.

Keywords: Disinformation, Propaganda, Democratization, Autocratization, Regime Survival

Suggested Citation

Sato, Yuko and Wiebrecht, Felix and Lindberg, Staffan I. and Institute, V-Dem, Disinformation and Episodes of Regime Transformation (September 11, 2023). V-Dem Working Paper 144, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4569010 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4569010

Yuko Sato

V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30
Sweden

Felix Wiebrecht (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute ( email )

Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://v-dem.net

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

V-Dem Institute

Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.v-dem.net

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