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Working paper

Hushed Dissent: Permanent Incumbency Advantage and Varieties of Online Political Dialogue under Competitive Authoritarianism

Comparative Politics. PS. academia.edu, 2014
The asymmetries of electoral competition on unequal grounds are reflected in the pertinent political exchange. I argue that the oppositional deliberation under repression is likely to happen in nondescript and hard-to-identify formats to circumvent prosecution based on identifiers. I hypothesize that exchanges challenging the status quo are cliquish, clandestine and grassroots, while conversations involving the side favored by the unelected elite are hierarchical and identifiable. To test the hypotheses, I extract measures of the network structure of Persian conversations on Twitter during the 2013 Iranian elections and show that discussions around the challenger, Rouhani, were highly interactive, interconnected, and nondescript; while Ghalibaf, a favorite of the hardliners, induced hierarchical and unidirectional conversations among users enjoying more following online.