Nationalism and human rights: A replication and extension
PLoS ONE, August 2019
A recent article has found nationalism to be negatively associated with government respect for several human rights. In this article, I replicate the original study’s findings, I demonstrate that these findings are robust to an alternate model specification, and I then extend the analysis to additional human rights not examined by the original author. Ultimately, I find that in comparison to when the chief executive is not nationalist, when the chief executive is highly nationalist, that state is less likely to be associated with high government respect for six ‘empowerment’ rights (i.e. the freedoms of assembly and association, electoral self-determination, speech, foreign movement, religion, and worker’s rights), and more likely to be associated with low government respect for these six empowerment rights. This study suggests that nationalism’s influence on human rights is greater than previous thought.
Personalization of Power and Repression in Dictatorships
Joseph Wright et al.
Journal of Politics, forthcoming
This article uses new data measuring gradations of personalism in authoritarian regimes to evaluate the relationship between concentration of power and patterns of repression. It shows that the personalization of power in dictatorships leads to an increase in repression. Given the rise in personalism we are witnessing globally, the findings of this study imply that repression is likely to become more prevalent in dictatorships as a consequence.
The Political-Economic Foundations of Representative Government
Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming
The dominant interpretation of the Glorious Revolution portrays it as an innovative compromise that used clever institutional design to solve a coordination problem between rival elites. In contrast, I argue that it was neither innovative nor a compromise and that it was the product of structural change rather than institutional design. Following Barrington Moore, I focus on the rise of agrarian capitalism and economically autonomous elites, who, in contrast to rent-seeking elites, do not depend on favor from the state for their income. They have an interest in the creation of a political system that ensures their equal rights under the law, open access to markets, and opportunities to form broad coalitions against rent-seeking. This makes them a critical constituency for representative government. I test this argument through an analysis of patterns of allegiance for Crown and Parliament at the outset of the English Civil War and address its relevance to the Glorious Revolution.
Civilians, Control, and Collaboration during Civil Conflict
Luke Condra & Austin Wright
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming
What affects civilian collaboration with armed actors during civil war? While theory and evidence confirm that harm by armed actors influences when and with whom civilians collaborate, we argue that collaboration is also a function of civilians’ perceptions of armed actors’ efforts to minimize collateral casualties. We test this argument using a series of nationwide surveys of Afghan civilians conducted quarterly between 2013 and 2015. Our data record civilian willingness to report roadside bombs to government authorities and perceptions of government and Taliban efforts to minimize civilian harm. Civilians are less (more) willing to collaborate with the government when they perceive the government (Taliban) carelessly using force, even after accounting for political sentiment, local security conditions, and a range of additional confounding factors. Moreover, our evidence suggests that perceived carelessness in the rival’s area of control influences collaboration. We discuss how these empirical results inform broader literatures on collaboration, conquest, occupation, and control.
Who Revolts? Empirically Revisiting the Social Origins of Democracy
Sirianne Dahlum, Carl Henrik Knutsen & Tore Wig
Journal of Politics, forthcoming
Several prominent accounts suggest that democratic transitions are more likely to take place when opposition to the incumbent regime is led by certain social groups. We further develop the argument that opposition movements dominated by industrial workers or the urban middle classes have both the requisite motivation and capacity to bring about democratization. To systematically test this argument, we collect new data on the social composition of antiregime opposition movements, globally from 1900 to 2006. We find that movements dominated by one of these urban groups more often result in democracy, both when compared to other movements and to situations without organized mass opposition. As expected, the relationship is stronger in urban than rural societies, and in more recent decades. When further differentiating the groups and accounting for plausible alternative explanations, the relationship between industrial worker campaigns and democratization is very robust, whereas the evidence is mixed for middle-class campaigns.
Investment in the Shadow of Conflict: Globalization, Capital Control, and State Repression
American Political Science Review, forthcoming
In conflict-prone societies, the fear of expropriation that accompanies a regime change reduces capital investment. These reductions in investments, in turn, harm the economy, amplifying the likelihood of regime change. This article studies the implications of these feedback channels on the interactions between globalization, capital control, state repression, and regime change. I show that processes that facilitate capital movements (e.g., globalization, economic modernization, and technologies that reduce transportation costs) amplify the likelihood of regime change in conflict-prone societies and strengthen the elite’s demand for a strong coercive state. In particular, to limit their collective action problem and manage the political risk of regime change, capitalists support a state that imposes capital control. We identify two conflicting forces, the Boix Effect and the Marx Effect, which determine when capital control and state repression become complements (Nazi Germany) or substitutes (Latin American military regimes) in right-wing regimes.
Never out of Now: Preference Falsification, Social Capital and the Arab Spring
International Interactions, forthcoming
Could the Arab Spring have led to a rise in support for authoritarian governments in some states? Discussions of revolutionary diffusion during the Arab Spring focused on whether expressions of discontent spread to different states. Such discussions, however, neglect the potential for there to be a decrease in expressions of discontent in the wake of spreading revolutionary sentiment in certain contexts. The spread of revolutionary fervor in states with similar characteristics decreases perceptions that individuals will free ride in a revolution, and, thus, increases the perception that a revolution can succeed. This perceived increase in the probability of a revolution succeeding, however, can decrease expressions of discontent with the regime where the threat of an unfavorable alternative replacing the status quo is high. The empirical analysis of data collected before and after the Arab Spring provides evidence that the Arab Spring decreased criticism of the regime in some authoritarian contexts.
Perceived Popularity and Online Political Dissent: Evidence from Twitter in Venezuela
International Journal of Press/Politics, forthcoming
On October 31, 2013, thousands of Twitter accounts, automated to actively retweet President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, were unexpectedly closed by the social media platform. I exploit this event to study the relationship between perceived popularity on social media (amplified through the use of bot accounts) and online political expression. The analysis uses more than two hundred thousand tweets spanning six months around the event and employs a quasi-experimental empirical framework. Following the closure of the accounts, the volume of tweets mentioning the president increased by an estimated 33 percent, with a differential increase for critical messages. Relative to tweets by government leaders, the number of likes for tweets by opposition leaders increased by an estimated 21 percent. Consistent with the presence of a spiral of silence in online political expression, the results suggest that the change in the perceived popularity of Maduro led to an increase in users’ willingness to express both criticism of the president and support for the opposition. While previous studies have documented how autocratic governments engage in manipulative online campaigns, this paper provides evidence of their effectiveness and highlights an important mechanism through which they can influence behavior.
When Does Terror Induce a State of Emergency? And What Are the Effects?
Christian Bjørnskov & Stefan Voigt
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming
The relationship between terrorist activities and states of emergency has never been explored in a cross-country perspective. This article is a first step to change that. Given that a terror act has been committed, what are the factors that lead governments to declare a state of emergency (SOE) — or refrain from declaring it? And given that a SOE has been declared, what are the effects thereof? On the basis of seventy-nine countries all having Western-style constitutions, we find that more terrorist incidents increase the likelihood of a SOE. Interestingly, emergencies are less likely to be declared in election years, supposedly because governments believe them to be unpopular. Once a SOE is declared, it generally leads to substantially more government repression. Finally, countries already under a SOE are more likely to suffer from additional terror attacks, challenging the effectiveness of states of emergency.
Terrain ruggedness and limits of political repression: Evidence from China’s Great Leap Forward and Famine (1959-61)
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming
Chairman Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward development plan strongly affected food security in rural China at the time, given that many of the associated policies exploited rural labor and extracted resources. A few months after the plan’s initial implementation in August 1958, food shortages were reported; by the spring of 1961, more than 30 million citizens had died of starvation and famine-related illnesses. However, as the national plan was rolled out and then upheld over three years, on-the-ground implementation was nonuniform. Using georeferenced terrain ruggedness data which captures small-scale topological irregularities and information on provincial leadership attitudes towards Mao’s plan, I provide evidence on forces underlying the famine’s intensity and distribution. The analysis is based on a differential effect, in which a fear-based incentive structure characterizing the plan’s implementation is implicitly embedded. The baseline results indicate that rugged terrain protected more than 4.6 million rural Chinese from dying in the famine. By identifying an additional benefit of ruggedness to health and well-being in some rural communities, I show that not only does a causal relationship exist at a local level between Great Leap policies and famine mortality, but also that the lethality of the policies varied per state power at the time.
Places to Hide: Terrain, Ethnicity, and Civil Conflict
David Carter, Andrew Shaver & Austin Wright
Journal of Politics, forthcoming
Terrain is central to understanding why some countries experience contentious ethnic divisions and civil war. While existing research specifies a direct effect of rugged terrain on civil war (i.e., it impedes state efforts to counter rebellion), we argue that terrain has an overlooked indirect effect on civil war via its historical influence on the distribution and political status of ethnic groups. We argue that access to variable rugged terrain facilitated the development and survival of more distinct ethnic groups by both restricting interaction among communities in rugged areas and complicating state repression. Both arguments suggest that groups in rugged areas face greater risk of political marginalization. Using geocoded data on civil war, terrain, and the distribution and political status of ethnic groups, we demonstrate that up to 40% of rugged terrain’s effects on civil war are mediated by its indirect effect on the exclusion of politically relevant ethnic groups.
Vote Brokers, Clientelist Appeals, and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Russia and Venezuela
Timothy Frye, Ora John Reuter & David Szakonyi
World Politics, October 2019, Pages 710-746
Modern clientelist exchange is typically carried out by intermediaries—party activists, employers, local strongmen, traditional leaders, and the like. Politicians use such brokers to mobilize voters, yet little about their relative effectiveness is known. The authors argue that broker effectiveness depends on their leverage over clients and their ability to monitor voters. They apply their theoretical framework to compare two of the most common brokers worldwide, party activists and employers, arguing the latter enjoy numerous advantages along both dimensions. Using survey-based framing experiments in Venezuela and Russia, the authors find voters respond more strongly to turnout appeals from employers than from party activists. To demonstrate mechanisms, the article shows that vulnerability to job loss and embeddedness in workplace social networks make voters more responsive to clientelist mobilization by their bosses. The results shed light on the conditions most conducive to effective clientelism and highlight broker type as important for understanding why clientelism is prevalent in some countries but not others.
International conflict, military rule, and violent authoritarian breakdown
International Interactions, forthcoming
Why do some transitions of power from military rule occur violently while others do not? What effect, if any, does the international security environment have on how violent breakdowns of authoritarian rule are? I argue a conflict-prone security environment ameliorates the commitment problem by ensuring an influential role for the military out of power. Therefore, when facing a domestic crisis in a threatening security environment, military leaders are more likely to peacefully cede power rather than wield violent measures to stay in office. Perhaps counter-intuitively, international conflicts thus lead to transitions of power from military rule that minimize violence and human costs. International conflicts do not have this moderating effect on other types of authoritarian rule.
Don't Call It a Comeback: Autocratic Ruling Parties After Democratization
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming
When autocratic ruling parties accede to democratization, they do not always fade away into history. Following forty-one transitions since 1940, including those in Mexico, Taiwan, Bulgaria and Ghana, the ruling party survived and won power after democratization. Why do some former autocratic parties prosper under democracy while others quickly dissolve? What effect does this have on democratic survival? This article uses original data to predict the post-transition fates of eighty-four autocratic ruling parties through 2015. Whereas extant theories emphasize radical reinvention and outsider struggle, the author argues that success is instead about maintaining ruling-party advantages into the democratic period. Parties succeed when they have authoritarian legacies that easily translate to democratic competition, such as broad programmatic experience, strong organization and policy success. In addition, democratic institutions that disadvantage new parties and actors benefit autocratic parties. Lastly, an instrumental variables design shows that autocratic party success negatively impacts democratic survival and quality.
Voting for Victors: Why Violent Actors Win Postwar Elections
Sarah Zukerman Daly
World Politics, October 2019, Pages 747-805
Why do citizens elect political actors who have perpetrated violence against the civilian population? Despite their use of atrocities, political parties with deep roots in the belligerent organizations of the past win postwar democratic elections in countries around the world. This article uses new, cross-national data on postwar elections globally between 1970 and 2010, as well as voting, survey, archival, and interview data from El Salvador. It finds that belligerents’ varied electoral success after wars can be explained not by their wartime levels of violence or use of electoral coercion, but by the distribution of military power at the end of conflict. It argues that militarily stronger belligerents are able to claim credit for peace, which translates into a reputation for competence on the provision of security. This enables them to own the security valence issue, which tends to crosscut cleavages, and to appeal to swing voters. The stronger belligerents’ provision of security serves to offset and justify their use of atrocities, rendering their election rational. This article sheds light on political life after episodes of violence. It also contributes to understanding security voting and offers insights into why people vote in seemingly counterintuitive ways.
Who is Democracy Good For? Elections, Rural Bias, and Health and Education Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa
Journal of Politics, forthcoming
How do African governments respond to democratic electoral competition? Although the common perception is that African governments have sought to win elections by combining various types of electoral fraud, clientelism, and ethnic mobilization, I argue that democratic elections in Africa have also induced governments to compete for votes by providing basic services. One implication of this is a rural bias in the impact of democracy on basic health and education outcomes. Using individual level data from 27 African countries, I investigate the theoretical claim that competitive elections create incentives for African governments to implement pro-rural policies in order to satisfy the rural majority. The results demonstrate that democratic elections significantly increase access to primary education and reduce infant mortality rates, but only for children in rural areas. As the argument expects, these effects are conditional on the level of urbanization.