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Pulling the Strings? The Strategic Use of Pro-Government Mobilization in Authoritarian Regimes

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Sebastian Hellmeier
Nils B. Weidmann
Publicerad i Comparative Political Studies
Volym 53
Nummer/häfte 1
Sidor 71-108
ISSN 0010-4140
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid
Sidor 71-108
Språk en
Länkar https://doi.org/10.1177/00104140198...
Ämnesord nondemocratic regimes, political protest, pro-regime mobilization
Ämneskategorier Statsvetenskap

Sammanfattning

© The Author(s) 2019. Protest against authoritarian rule is a well-studied phenomenon in the social sciences, but mass rallies in favor of authoritarian regimes have received only limited scholarly attention. While previous work has portrayed authoritarian regimes as characterized by mass apathy and political demobilization, we show that this is only partially true today. We argue that autocrats mobilize their supporters selectively as a strategic response to political threats. Rallies increase collective action costs for rivaling elites, opposition movements, and bystanders because they signal regime strength (deterrence) and curb mobilization efforts against the regime (repression). Nevertheless, the mobilization of supporters is costly, as autocrats have only imperfect information about current levels of support, rallies require organizational capacity and clashes between supporters and opponents can get out of control. Drawing on the first global data set with information about pro-government rally events in all authoritarian regimes from 2003 to 2015, our quantitative analysis reveals systematic patterns in the occurrence of rallies in line with our theoretical framework. We find systematic increases in pro-government mobilization during episodes of large domestic and regional opposition mobilization, high coup risk, and prior to elections.

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