Political Economy of Authoritarian Control
Preventive Repression and Authoritarian Regime Dynamics
Abstract: Authoritarian regimes vary in their durability, violence, and likelihood of democratization. This paper links these differences to heterogeneous incentives for and consequences of repression, analyzed in an infinite horizon game between a government and a societal actor that endogenously mobilizes in response to the government’s repression choices. Preventive repression exerts a short-term effect that deters mobilization but a long-term effect that inhibits peaceful bargaining. Personalist regimes repress at high levels because they are most vulnerable to insider removal when society mobilizes, face low- valued outside options under democracy, and have considerable scope for extracting rents—providing incentives for personalist dictators to take strategic actions that increase the likelihood of violent revolutionary overthrow. Although military regimes are also vulnerable to insider removal, they often face favorable exit options to democracy, which yields shorter regimes more likely to transition to democracy. Party-based regimes are least vulnerable to insider removals and therefore tolerate societal mobilization, yielding durable and relatively non-violent regimes.
The Dilemma of Authoritarian Power-Sharing
Paper: early draft available upon request
Abstract: Authoritarian rulers face a fundamental tradeoff when constructing governing coalitions: sharing power improves their ability to commit to deals, but creates the risk of insider coups. This paper analyzes a repeated interaction in which a government chooses whether to include or exclude the challenger from power, and then the government and challenger bargain over state revenues. In equilibrium, the government may exclude the challenger for either opportunistic or strategic reasons, and shares power in the baseline model only if the challenger is sufficiently more likely to rebel if excluded than to attempt a coup if included in power. A higher exogenous probability of outsider overthrow increases the government’s incentives to share power by enhancing the defensive value of a broader regime, ambiguously affects equilibrium coup likelihood, and may increase the government’s welfare.