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Repression, and Subversion: Incumbent Defeat in Competitive Autocracies

World Values Research. no. World Values Survey Association, 2013. No. 2.
Zavadskaya M., Welzel C.
Competitive elections in authoritarian regimes are inherently ambiguous: do they extend regime persistence or, vice versa, operate as subversive events? This article tests Inglehart and Welzel’s ‘emancipative theory of democracy’, which has not been tested for competitive elections in autocracies: when emancipative values grow strong, autocratic power appears increasingly illegitimate in people’s eyes, which motivates subversive mass actions against autocratic rule. For electoral outcomes this suggestion implies, firstly, that authoritarian incumbents are more likely to suffer electoral defeat when emancipative values have become more widespread. Secondly, that post-electoral protest is more likely when emancipative values have become more widespread. To test these hypotheses, we analyze one hundred-fifty elections among thirty-three competitive autocracies over twenty-one years from 1990 to 2011. We find that emancipative values are indeed strongly conducive to incumbent defeat while their effect on postelectoral protest is conditional: it only occurs in elections won by the incumbent.