In Search of Stability

Electoral Legitimation under Authoritarianism in Myanmar

in European Journal of East Asian Studies
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This article accounts for how authoritarian regimes use elections to achieve stability (and, thus, longevity). At the domestic level, elections are deployed to either feign conformity to established rules and/or shared beliefs about how political power should be maintained or mobilise citizens in a unanimous show of manufactured support for the ruling party. At the international level, elections are employed to simulate compliance to international democratic norms about the appropriate method of selecting political authority. It validates this theory using the case of Myanmar, where three different ruling cliques have sanctioned elections in the pursuit of this dividend. The institutionalisation of this function over time has in turn contributed to the stabilisation of autocratic rule, which has occurred through a combination of endogenous self-reinforcement, exogenous reinforcement and reciprocal reinforcement. This positive relationship offers further opportunities for within-case and cross-case comparisons to be made in the future.

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