Voter Volatility in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes: Testing the “Tragic Brilliance” Thesis

In: Comparative Sociology
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  • 1 Department of Political Sciences and Sociology, European University at St. Petersburg, St Petersburg,
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According to the “tragic brilliance” thesis advanced in the recent literature on electoral authoritarian regimes, such regimes retain their ability to to achieve electoral success even in the conditions when the national economy deteriorates. This study uses the data on voter volatility in 93 electoral authoritarian regimes and new democracies in order to validate the “tragic brilliance” thesis empirically. The analysis supports the “tragic brilliance” thesis. While in new democracies, a strong correlation between government economic performance and voter volatility can be observed, voter volatility in electoral authoritarian regimes is not facilitated by poor economic performance. Voter volatility declines if such regimes are able to achieve cooptation of sub-national elites without depriving them of substantial autonomy.

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