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.
This study develops a methodological tool for integration of research on party system fragmentation and party system nationalization. The method is built by decomposing a standard indicator of fragmentation, the effective number of parties, into individual-party components (effective size scores), and weighting them by nationalization scores, which allows for disaggregating the number of parties into two distinct components, the effective numbers of national and regional parties. As a result, it becomes possible to assess the influences of substantively important factors upon the components of the number of parties and the overall level of fragmentation in a methodologically consistent, quantifiable way. In addition, the proposed framework of analysis differentiates between direct and indirect effects upon party system fragmentation. A preliminary empirical test on a sample from 90 countries demonstrates that the proposed framework for analysis allows for achieving a rich and nuanced understanding of the factors of party system fragmentation.
This article compares competitive authoritarian, one-party authoritarian, and democratic party systems on three parameters: likelihood to emerge, sustainability and durability. By applying a variety of statistical techniques to a comprehensive dataset on post-World War II elections, this study shows that under competitive authoritarianism, elections are less likely to be party-structured than in democracies, and that competitive authoritarian party systems are markedly less sustainable and durable than systems in the other categories, especially in democracies. These findings are in accordance with the theory according to which competitive authoritarian institutions are epiphenomena, reflecting the distribution of power in the polity but not shaping it. Their emergence and survival are consequences rather than causes of the stability and success of contemporary autocracies.
This article employs the Cox proportional hazards model to discover the factors of survival of 162 party systems from 1792 to 2009. In order to avoid the endogeneity problem, the analysis employs the level of democracy as a control variable. The impact of the overall level of party system fragmentation is found negligible, even though excessive fragmentation is conducive to a higher hazard of party system termination. More importantly, systems with close competition among leading parties – including two-party systems and systems with close competition among up to four parties – are more likely to survive across time. The article introduces a methodological innovation by disaggregating the effective number of parties into two components, the leading parties’ balance and the residual fragmentation.
The contemporary electoral system of Russia, once adopted to foster the country’s transition to democracy, has been transformed into a crucial pillar of electoral authoritarianism. This study investigates how the principal elements of Russia’s electoral system contributed to the consolidation of the authoritarian political order. While certainly not undemocratic in themselves and often borrowed from well-established democracies, the electoral institutions of Russia were assembled into a combination that effectively prevents alternation in power. The study shows that central role in this process was played by learning from error. At each of the stages of transition to authoritarianism, electoral reforms were implemented in order to minimize the risks that were revealed by the previous electoral experiences of the authoritarian leadership.
This article explores the structural determinants of aggregate change in the party composition of legislative assemblies, i.e. legislative party turnover. To a large extent a product of electoral volatility, it has its own causal dynamics due to the differentiated impact exerted by electoral rules, party system properties, and institutional design upon the two phenomena. The empirical test on elections held in 111 electoral democracies of the world (1992-2014) demonstrates that the impact of institutional factors (including electoral rules, federalism, and presidentialism) and party system nationalization upon legislative party turnover tends to be mitigated in comparison with their effects upon electoral volatility, even though the direction of the impact is almost invariably the same.