Shoring up Power: Electoral Reform and the Consolidation of Authoritarian Rule

39 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2020

See all articles by Jennifer Gandhi

Jennifer Gandhi

Emory University - Department of Political Science

Abigail Heller

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ora John Reuter

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - Department of Political Science; National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: July 26, 2020

Abstract

Why do autocrats adopt proportional representation (PR)? Conventional wisdom suggests autocrats should prefer majoritarian electoral rules because they favor large parties. Yet, since 1945, autocrats have been almost three times more likely to institute reforms towards PR than majoritarianism. Existing literature suggests incumbents institute PR to divide the opposition. We explore another motivation: executives switch to PR to ensure discipline among allies. We argue that such reforms are most likely when autocrats have a particular need to impose discipline — when ruling parties are nascent. Empirically, we examine the conditions under which changes to PR are likely with cross-national data from all electoral autocracies between 1945 and 2012. Additionally, we investigate a prominent case — the 2005 switch to PR in Russia — to illustrate the mechanisms and show how the reform solved the problem of control, allowing the Kremlin to focus on selecting electorally strong candidates.

Keywords: Autocracy, Electoral Systems, Proportional Representation, Russia

Suggested Citation

Gandhi, Jennifer and Heller, Abigail and Reuter, Ora John, Shoring up Power: Electoral Reform and the Consolidation of Authoritarian Rule (July 26, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3660944 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3660944

Jennifer Gandhi

Emory University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727- 1935 (Phone)
404-727-4586 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://polisci.emory.edu/faculty%20pages/gandhi.htm

Abigail Heller

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ora John Reuter (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - Department of Political Science ( email )

PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53211
United States

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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