Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Preelection Mobilization and Electoral Outcome in Authoritarian Regimes

December 8, 2017

Preelection Mobilization and Electoral Outcome in Authoritarian Regimes by M. Ali Kadivar was published in Mobilization: An International Quarterly in September 2017. 

In his new paper, Postdoctoral Fellow M. Ali Kadivar investigates the effect of preelection protest on the outcomes of authoritarian elections. Electoral authoritarian regimes use elections to consolidate their power and claim democratic legitimacy. Nonetheless, on some occasions authoritarian incumbents lose elections despite their advantages, and a democratic breakthrough is achieved. Kadivar proposes that preelection protests contribute to such election results. Existing scholarship focuses primarily on the effectiveness of postelection upheavals, and the effects of preelection protest are still theoretically and empirically understudied. This article proposes a theory for why preelection contention weakens the regime and empowers the opposition and so has an independent effect on incumbent defeat of authoritarian regimes and democratization. The paper presents empirical support for the association between preelection protest activities, incumbent defeat, and democratization using data from 190 elections across 65 countries with nondemocratic regimes.

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