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Should I Stay, or Should I Go? On the Determinants of Elite Defections in Electoral Autocracies

Dates:
  • Tue 26 May 2020 15.00 - 17.30
  Add to Calendar 2020-05-26 15:00 2020-05-26 17:30 Europe/Paris Should I Stay, or Should I Go? On the Determinants of Elite Defections in Electoral Autocracies

Defections within the ruling elite often endanger the authoritarian rule, emboldening opposition groupings and paving the way for a regime breakdown. For example, defections to the opposition were crucial in the fall of prominent dictatorships in Mexico, Kenya, or Malaysia. However, the consequences are better understood than the causes. While allying with the regime offers significant advantages to elites (e.g., privileged access to the state resources), the opposition’s ability to deliver regime benefits is severely limited. Why would elites risk their standing by joining the opposition when the ruling coalition can offer much more?

This dissertation examines the push and pull factors that influence the decision of elites to stay or go with a novel dataset on the political careers of 15,019 deputies and ministers in 12 electoral autocracies. The findings show that the ruling coalition is held together by spoil-sharing among the elite. Electoral autocracies see more defections when the government has few economic resources. Against this backdrop, the risk that ruling elites will be deprived of access to regime benefits increases, leaving them discontent and prone to defect. Besides grievances, opportunities also matter: while parties, legislatures, and elections are designed to help authoritarian incumbents survive, they can also

become the means by which a ruling coalition unravel. Specifically, regime elites tend to defect when the end of a legislative term is closer, and they do not expect media harassment. Finally, elites also weigh opportunities to defect based on their political resources—such as their standing in the regime hierarchy, knowledge, and connections with relevant actors. In sum, the thesis offers direct tests oncompeting theories linking defections with authoritarian regime breakdown.

in zoom please send an email if you wish to participate - DD/MM/YYYY
  in zoom please send an email if you wish to participate -

Defections within the ruling elite often endanger the authoritarian rule, emboldening opposition groupings and paving the way for a regime breakdown. For example, defections to the opposition were crucial in the fall of prominent dictatorships in Mexico, Kenya, or Malaysia. However, the consequences are better understood than the causes. While allying with the regime offers significant advantages to elites (e.g., privileged access to the state resources), the opposition’s ability to deliver regime benefits is severely limited. Why would elites risk their standing by joining the opposition when the ruling coalition can offer much more?

This dissertation examines the push and pull factors that influence the decision of elites to stay or go with a novel dataset on the political careers of 15,019 deputies and ministers in 12 electoral autocracies. The findings show that the ruling coalition is held together by spoil-sharing among the elite. Electoral autocracies see more defections when the government has few economic resources. Against this backdrop, the risk that ruling elites will be deprived of access to regime benefits increases, leaving them discontent and prone to defect. Besides grievances, opportunities also matter: while parties, legislatures, and elections are designed to help authoritarian incumbents survive, they can also

become the means by which a ruling coalition unravel. Specifically, regime elites tend to defect when the end of a legislative term is closer, and they do not expect media harassment. Finally, elites also weigh opportunities to defect based on their political resources—such as their standing in the regime hierarchy, knowledge, and connections with relevant actors. In sum, the thesis offers direct tests oncompeting theories linking defections with authoritarian regime breakdown.


Location:
in zoom please send an email if you wish to participate -

Affiliation:
Department of Political and Social Sciences

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Maureen Lechleitner (EUI) - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Prof. Stefano Bartolini (EUI)

Co-Supervisor:
Prof. Jennifer Gandhi (Emory University)

Examiner:
Prof. Elias Dinas (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)
Prof. Carl H. Knutsen (University of Oslo)

Defendant:
Adrián Del Rio Rodriguez

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