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Are non-competitive elections good for citizens?

Andrew T Little

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2017, vol. 29, issue 2, 214-242

Abstract: Many regimes, particularly autocracies, hold elections where the ruling regime’s victory is a foregone conclusion. This paper provides a formal analysis of how these non-competitive elections affect citizen welfare compared to a non-electoral baseline. To do so, I first develop a game-theoretic framework that captures many extant theories of why regimes hold non-competitive elections, which are modeled solely as a public signal of the regime’s strength. Incumbents hold non-competitive elections to signal strength or gather information , which allows the regime to manage political interactions more effectively. However, even though non-competitive elections are a useful tool for (autocratic) regimes, they are also valuable to citizens. This is because citizens can also utilize the information generated by the election, and may receive more transfers, less repression, or more responsive policy than they would with no elections.

Keywords: Authoritarian politics; elections; welfare analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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