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Participation and boycott in authoritarian elections

Gail Buttorff and Douglas Dion
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Gail Buttorff: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Kansas, USA
Douglas Dion: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Iowa, USA

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2017, vol. 29, issue 1, 97-123

Abstract: The existence of authoritarian elections raises a number of questions regarding the strategies of political opposition. What explains the choice of strategy among key opponents of a regime? What determines when opposition groups willingly participate in elections and when they engage in electoral boycott? To understand the opposition’s strategic choices, we develop a formal model of government–opposition interaction under authoritarianism. We contribute to the literature on election boycotts in emphasizing the effect of uncertainty about the strength of the regime on strategic decisions. The model produces predictions for several key features of authoritarian elections, including the decision to participate, boycott, and mobilize against the regime. Importantly and uniquely, the model provides an explanation for variation in opposition strategies within a particular country. Using the case of Jordan, we illustrate how the results of the model can be used to explain variation in opposition strategy across parliamentary elections.

Keywords: Authoritarian elections; boycott; opposition strategy; incomplete information; Jordan; Jordanian elections (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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