Information, elections, and political change

Grigore Pop-Eleches, Graeme B. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

A growing literature in comparative politics focuses on the role of elections in authoritarian regimes. While most see elections as a tool of authoritarian control, some argue that they represent a vehicle for political liberalization. We demonstrate that authoritarian elections can be disruptive of authoritarian rule but that electoral disruption can lead to deliberalization as well as liberalization. We argue that this is because elections work as an information revelation mechanism, potentially throwing the ruling coalition into crisis, and resulting in either liberalization or authoritarian retrenchment. We test our theory using a new global dataset of liberalizations, deliberalizations, and elections and show that features of the information environment including media freedom, public opinion surveys, and international election observers shape the susceptibility of a country to political change by elections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-478
Number of pages20
JournalComparative Politics
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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