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Political Research Exchange

When Do Elections Subvert Authoritarianism? Electoral Malpractice and Possible Post-Electoral Scenarios

Political Participation
Margarita Zavadskaya
European University Institute
Margarita Zavadskaya
European University Institute

Previous scholarship on post-electoral protests emphasizes the importance of electoral fraud as a trigger for protests and elections as a focal point that solves the collective action problem. However, it remains puzzling why not every rigged elections bring about the decreased electoral support or protests. Does electoral malpractice increase the odds of subversive post-electoral scenarios? I test the hypotheses that a change in electoral malpractice from previous elections and anticipation of electoral fraud that make a difference rather than an overall level of electoral integrity or the lack thereof. The evidence from the statistical analysis of 330 elections in authoritarian regimes suggests that citizens and opposition are usually aware of low quality of elections and envision the possibility to raise a banner against the incumbent. Improved electoral integrity reflects the lack of incumbent’s infrastructural capacity and signals an opportunity for opposition and citizen groups.
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