Legislatures, Cooptation, and Protest in Contemporary Authoritarian Regimes
Posted: 2 Sep 2013
Date Written: 2013
A central claim of the new literature on authoritarianism is that legislatures extend the lifespan of authoritarian regimes. However, there are a wide range of possible mechanisms that might underpin this relationship. In this paper, we contribute both to the theory and the empirics of legislative cooptation under authoritarianism by exploring one such mechanism. We argue that legislative cooptation extends the longevity of authoritarian regimes by reducing anti-regime street protest. Legislatures reduce social protest by providing rent-seeking opportunities to key opposition elites who, in return, demobilize their supporters. Legislatures may also reduce protest by drawing mobilizational resources into the political system and away from anti-system groups. Using new data from 83 Russian regional legislatures, we look at how variation in the distribution of legislative leadership positions to opposition leaders affects levels of opposition street protest.
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