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Democratic Breakthrough or Authoritarian Legitimization?- A comparative study of democratic electoral outcomes in electoral authoritarian regimes

  • Michael Wahman
Publiceringsår: 2009
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag


Scholars studying international democratization have recently shown a

greater interest in how elections in authoritarian contexts per se, could

function as leverages for democratic improvement. This study contributes to

this knowledge by asking; when do elections in electoral authoritarian

regimes result in democratic consequences?

Recognizing that elections can be a tool for democratic breakthrough as

well as authoritarian legitimization, this study tries to avoid an obviously

democratic bias and seeks the causes for both democratic improvements and

erosion in connection with elections. To perform this task, the study utilizes

a quantitative method with a global population of 252 non-founding

authoritarian elections, in the period 1973-2004. This is a population

significantly larger than earlier studies on this subject.

The main argument of this article is that structural conditions have been

overlooked in earlier studies within this field. Even though it is true that the

more actor-centered factors such as the presence of oppositional coalitions

and the number of popular demonstrations have a significant effect on both

a country’s democratic electoral outcome (DEO) and on the probability of

an oppositional victory, actors are affected by structures.

The dependence on foreign trade but foremost short-term economic growth

is demonstrated to have a direct respectively indirect effect on the DEO.

Economic stability seems to contribute to authoritarian stability in regard to

elections in authoritarian contexts. Economic crisis, on the other hand,

increases the probability of oppositional coalitions and popular

demonstrations, which in their turn increases the probability of a positive



  • Political Science
  • trade
  • oppositional coalitions
  • comparative
  • authoritarianism
  • demonstrations
  • democracy
  • elections
  • economic growth


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