Why are executive bills sometimes amended significantly in authoritarian legislatures? Bill change clashes with the conventional picture of parliaments in nondemocracies as “rubber stamp” bodies. Recent work challenging the “rubber stamp” model suggests that cases of amendment are the result of legislator influence. This article proposes an alternative argument: Amendment can result from intraexecutive policy-making processes, unresolved in the prelegislative, cabinet-level stage. Factionalised executives can use legislative institutions to help overcome information asymmetries, as well as the commitment and monitoring problems involved in collective decision making. The article evaluates this alternative account using a combination of statistical and case-study analyses, drawing on both crossnational and fine-grained data from contemporary Russia. The findings contribute to our knowledge of authoritarian legislatures, policy-making processes in nondemocracies, and Russian politics.
There is a rich body of theorizing on the diffusion of democracy across space and time. There is also an emerging scholarship on authoritarian diffusion. The dynamics of the interaction between external democratic and autocratic diffusion processes and their effects on national and sub-national political regime outcomes have received scant attention in the literature. Do democratic diffusion processes help counter external authoritarian influences? And, in contexts where external diffusion of democratic influences is weak, do we observe greater susceptibility to diffusion from regional autocracies that might in turn reinforce authoritarian practices and institutions in “recipient” states? To address these questions, we perform analysis of data from two original under-utilized data sets—a data set on the European Union (EU) aid to Russia’s regions and a data set with statistics on trade among post-Soviet states. We find that EU aid has the effect of countering external authoritarian influences that work through Soviet-era inter-regional economic ties.
Do economic sanctions turn the public against the target government or cause it to rally around the flag? How do sanctions affect attitudes toward the sanctioner? How does bad economic performance under sanctions shape support for the target government? Despite their importance, these questions have rarely been explored with survey data. Results from two surveys in Russia find that exposure to information about economic sanctions does not generate a rally around the flag, leads some groups to withdraw support from the target government, and reduces support for the sanctioner. Respondents also react more strongly to the reasons why sanctions were put in place—the annexation of Crimea—than to the sanctions themselves. These results suggest the need to reevaluate theories of the impact of economic sanctions and blame-shifting under autocracy.
The relative bargaining power of rulers and right holders is thought to be a key determinant of property rights, but because it both shapes and is shaped by property rights, it is difficult to estimate the impact of bargaining power on property rights. We take advantage of a natural experiment by comparing the responses of managers interviewed just before and just after a surprising parliamentary election in Russia that weakened the relative bargaining power of the ruling party. This electoral shock had little impact on the perceived property rights of the average firm, but firms with close economic ties to the state viewed their property as more vulnerable after the election. By exploiting largely exogenous variation in the timing of survey interviews, we estimate the impact of bargaining power on property rights with greater precision. We also contribute to the literature on elections under autocracy by focusing on their economic, rather than political, impacts on individuals.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union is an essential case for the study of ethnic politics and identity-based mobilization. However, analyses in this article demonstrate that commonly used measures of ethnic diversity and politically relevant group concentration show little consistent relationship with events of ethnic mobilization in Soviet regions during the period 1987-1992. In contrast, the proportion of a regional population that did not speak a metropolitan language has a consistently strong negative relationship with mobilization across these regions. In line with recent work on identity politics, I argue that a lack of proficiency in a metropolitan language marks nonspeakers as outsiders and hinders their social mobility. Regions with many of these individuals thus have a relatively high potential for identity-based mobilization. These findings provide further impetus for looking beyond ethnic groups in measuring identity-based cleavages, and indicate that language can play an important role in political outcomes aside from proxying ethnicity.
Using an original dataset on the richest Russian businesspeople for the period 2003--2010, we explore how political connections and wealth interact in the institutional environment of a fledgling autocracy. In our analysis, we answer several questions that allow us to shed some light on this matter. How political connections help businesspeople to accumulate wealth in a consolidating autocratic regime? Do businesspeople withdraw from politics as quality of political institutions deteriorates? To what extent such withdrawal follows strategic choices rather than government pressure? We show that, first, the decay of political institutions and monopolization of political power by the federal executive results in decrease in returns on businesspersons’ investment in political connectedness; and that, second, as this happens, businesspeople actually retreat from politics since political engagement no longer pays off for them thus revealing their assessment of the quality of Russian political institutions.
What do authoritarian legislatures and legislators do? Would outcomes in dictatorships be different if they were absent? Why do dictatorships have legislatures in the first place? These questions represent central puzzles in the study of authoritarian politics and institutions. The introductory article to this special issue on legislatures in nondemocracies discusses what we now know about these assemblies; what the issue’s articles contribute to this body of knowledge; and what future work might fruitfully look at. The special issue as a whole aims to advance the research agendas of both authoritarian institutions and legislative studies.
Why do authoritarian regimes permit elections in some settings but not in others? Focusing on the decision to hold subnational elections, we argue that autocrats can use local elections to assuage powerful subnational elites. When subnational elites control significant political resources, such as local political machines, leaders may need to co-opt them to govern cost-effectively. Elections are an effective tool of co-optation because they provide elites with autonomy and the opportunity to cultivate their own power bases. We test this argument by analyzing variation in the decision to hold mayoral elections in Russia’s 207 largest cities between 2001 and 2012. Our findings suggest that Russian mayoral elections were more likely to be retained in cities where elected mayors sat atop strong political machines. Our findings also illustrate how subnational elections may actually serve to perpetuate authoritarianism by helping to ensure elite loyalty and putting the resources of powerful elites to work for the regime.
Structural equation modelers judge multi-item constructs against three requirements: (a) multiple items converge in a single dimension; (b) individual-level patterns of item convergence are invariant across countries; (c) aggregate-level patterns of item convergence replicate those at the individual level. This approach involves two premises: Measurement validity hinges solely on a construct’s internal convergence, and convergence patterns at the individual level have priority over those at the aggregate level. We question both premises (a) because convergence patterns at the aggregate-level exist in their own right and (b) because only a construct’s external linkages reveal its reality outreach. In support of these claims, we use the example of “emancipative values” to show that constructs can entirely lack convergence at the individual level and nevertheless exhibit powerful and important linkages at the aggregate level. Consequently, we advocate a paradigm shift from internal convergencetoward external linkage as the prime criterion of validity.