Why do some newly introduced revolutionary governments face anti-government demonstrations and swiftly exit office, while others are able to establish political regimes that last for decades? Historical evidence finds revolutionary governments in the first decade of twenty-first century to be three times more vulnerable to mass protest than a hundred years ago. What can explain this trend? This paper relates the stability of newly emerged revolutionary governments to the political composition of the protest that brings a new incumbent to power and in factors that can shape it. Our theoretical model, incorporating protest into a dynamic Downsian framework, features the significant role of protest coordination, communication technology, ideology, and the coercive capacity of the regime. This paper contributes to the literature in several ways. First, it discusses a new historical trend of instability of revolutionary governments. Second, it proposes a model that helps to understand the growing instability of revolutionary regimes, as well as conditions that undermine stability. In equilibrium, it is possible to have a revolutionary government overthrown by popular uprising, despite the fact that it gained power on the wave of popular support. Third, under a set of conditions, the new incumbent would always come from a different part of political spectrum.
Although almost half of the world's population lives under nondemocratic regimes, the questions of how policy decisions are made and how power changes hands in nondemocracies have received relatively little attention in the political economy literature. Gordon Tullock (1987) suggested that because there are no strong institutions ensuring consensus and regulating the election and succession of leaders, non-democratic regimes rapidly degenerate into personal rule, where a single dictator dominates every aspect of decision-making. In this paper, we draw on our work on dynamic coalition formation and investigate Tullock's conjecture formally. Our game-theoretic analysis leads to the opposite of Tullock's conjecture: provided that players are sufficiently forward-looking, juntas do not dynamically converge to personal rule. On the contrary, relatively large juntas may emerge and persist as ruling coalitions for a very simple and intuitive reason: the absence of strong institutions not only enables some junta members to eliminate others, but also implies that current members cannot make credible commitments and in particular cannot refrain from engaging in further rounds of elimination.