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Elections in non-democracies

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Engy Saleh

on 3 December 2015

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Transcript of Elections in non-democracies


Framework of


Elections in Non-democracies
Source: Freedom in The World 2015, Freedom House

Source: The Washington Post; The Guardian

What is the Role of Elections in an Electoral Authoritarian Regime?
An analysis from the perspective of the incumbent
Theoretical background:
Concept of Electoral Authoritarianism
Why does the incumbent carry out elections?
Actors and distribution of power in the electoral arena
The strategies of the incumbent: Menu of Manipulation

Framework of analysis:
Illustration of the analytical framework
Main findings

Case study:
Analyzing the case of Mexico

Summary and Conclusions

Analytical Framework
Main Findings
Illustration of the Analytical Framework
and Conclusions
Case, W. (2006). How do rulers control the electoral arena?. In A. Schedler (Ed.). Electoral authoritarianism: the dynamics of unfree competition (pp. 95-113). Boulder, Colo.: L. Rienner Publishers, Inc.
Diamond, L. (2002). Elections without democracy: thinking about hybrid regimes. Journal of Democracy, 13(2), 21-35.
Gandhi, J., & Lust-Okar, E. (2009). Elections under authoritarianism. Annual Review of Political Science, 12, 403-22.
Geddes, B. (2007). Why parties and elections in authoritarian regimes? Presented at Annu. Meet. Am. Polit. Sci. Assoc., Washington DC.
Greene, K. (2007). Why dominant parties lose: Mexico's democratization in comparative perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Levitsky, S., & Way, L. A. (2010). Competitive Authoritarianism. Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lindberg, S. I. (2009). Democratization by Elections. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Magaloni, B. (2006). Voting for autocracy: Hegemonic party survival and its demise in Mexico. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schedler, A. (2002). The Menu of Manipulation. Journal of Democracy, 2002, 13(2), 36-50.
Schedler, A. (2013). The politics of uncertainty sustaining and subverting electoral authoritarianism. New York: Oxford University Press.
(Magaloni, 2006; Greene, 2007)
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
[1929 - 2000]
"The only game in town"
“I have always voted for the PRI because only this party can win. Why would I support the opposition if it can’t win? They told me this time they would also give us checks (direct cash payments). I must thus vote for the PRI to get my check.” (Magaloni, 2006)
1929 - 1982
1982 - 2000
1988 Presidential Elections
PRI Dominance
PRI Breakdown

Relevance of the question and perspective of the incumbent

Main finding of the analysis:
The possible roles of elections are either “regime-sustaining” or “regime-subverting”
These roles depend on the interaction between the strategies of the incumbent and the features of the environment

Application of the framework to the case of Mexico
Is it a matter of time?!
Even if the current outcome of elections is regime-sustaining, does the institutionalization of the practice of voting among citizens lead to a regime-subverting role of the elections on the long(er)-term?

Illustration of the Analytical Framework
Illustration of the Analytical Framework
“All autocratic regimes face two dilemmas: first, they must deter potential elite rivals, and second, they must induce some form of political loyalty from the masses” (Magaloni, 2006)

Intra-regime conflicts
to solve problems that could end authoritarian rule and destabilize the regime

Domestic and international legitimacy
state and/or governing-party organizations need to be cohesive to handle international pressure

Informational role
identify opposition actors and loyalty of own party cadres
Features of the electoral arena:
Endogenous dynamic, asymmetrical and skewed distribution of power and information

Actors in the electoral arena:

The central agent of the authoritarian regime in the electoral arena and the source of authoritarian power.


"Tragic brilliance": citizens' choices are free, but constrained

Although opposition is incompatible with the regime's nature, they are legitimately admitted in competitive elections.

Menu of manipulation: strategies of the incumbent

(Schedler, 2002)


reserved position and reserved domain

Freedom of supply

exclusion or fragmentation of opposition forces

Freedom of demand
repression or unfairness


formal or informal disenfranchisement


coercion or corruption


electoral fraud or institutional bias


tutelage or reversal

Concept of Electoral Authoritarianism
Why does the incumbent carry out elections?
Actors and Distribution of Power
The strategies of the incumbent
What is the Role of Elections in an Electoral Authoritarian Regime?
An analysis from the perspective of the incumbent
Institutional Change (violating Integrity)
Sustaining Coalition (violating Insulation)
Controlling Mass Media (violating Freedom of Demand)
Liberal Access to Campaign Funds (violating Freedom of Supply)
Political Stability
Economic Growth
Incumbent's Strategies
Regime Sustaining
1982 Debt Crisis
1994 Peso Devaluation
Decreasing Vote Share
The first seriously contested elections
"It has not been possible to unearth evidence – documentary, verbal, mathematical or otherwise – to conclusively demonstrate that" (Greene, 2007)
Fraud used
Defectors punished
Willingness to use the armed forces
Regime Sustaining
Opposition Growing
Regime Subversion
7th Nov 2015
23rd Nov 2015
"The most common form of autocracy is hidden behind the façade of elections." (Magaloni, 2006)
Second Application - Group C

Engy Saleh
Federica Foiadelli
Giorgio Manenti
Silvana Rebaza
Full transcript