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Rivals within: political factions, loyalty, and elite competition under authoritarianism

Ting Chen and Ji Yeon Hong

Political Science Research and Methods, 2021, vol. 9, issue 3, 599-614

Abstract: Loyalty is a permanent concern to dictators. It is unclear, however, whether loyalty to a dictator assures the ruling group's cohesiveness. This study shows that authoritarian political elites under promotion pressure, while remaining loyal to their superior, also compete within factions to outrival their peers. Exploiting data on Chinese provincial leaders and local media reports on corruption investigations and industrial accidents (2000–2014), we find that Chinese elites promote negative news related to their co-faction peers as frequently as - or, depending on the measure, even more often than - they promote similar news regarding members of other factions. We also find that negative reports indeed reduce the promotion probability of reported cadres, while increasing that of reporting ones.

Date: 2021
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