Sunday, 31 August 2014

Notes from "Varieties of Dictatorship"

Chapter 10 of Principles of Comparative Politics (William Roberts Clark, Matt Golder and Sona Nadenichek Golder).

- Classification:

+ "A monarchy is an autocracy in which the executive comes to and maintains power on the basis of family and kin networks."
+ "A military dictatorship is an autocracy in which the executive relies on the armed forces to come to and stay in power."
+ "A dominant-party dictatorship is 1 in which a single party dominates access to political office and control over policy."
+ "A personalistic dictatorship is 1 in which the leader, although often supported by a party or the military, retains personal control of policy decisions and the selection of regime personnel."
+ "An electoral authoritarian regime is 1 in which leaders hold elections and tolerate some pluralism and interparty competition, but violate minimal democratic norms so severely and systematically that it makes no sense to classify them as democracies. A hegemonic electoral regime is 1 in which the leader's party routinely wins with overwhelming majorities. A competitive authoritarian regime is 1 in which opposition parties win substantial minorities in either presidential or legislative elections. Electoral authoritarian regimes can be contrasted with politically closed authoritarian regimes in which no opposition party is granted a legal space in the political arena."

- Leader succession, 1946- 1996:

- Survival:
+ Military dictatorships are more fragile than dominant-party and personalistic dictatorships, because when the military come to power, they often carry with them "the seeds of their own destruction". Disagreements and conflicts can lead to factionalisation and thus change in government.
+ Single-party regimes and personalistic regimes tend to be immune to internal splits.
However, personalistic regimes usually don't last as long as single-party regimes. 1st, such regimes rarely survive long after the death of the leader. 2nd, the rulers rely on informal and often quite unstable personal networks, sometimes based on kinship, ethnicity or religion, and therefore have a relatively narrow support base. Groups excluded from participation and benefits may want to challenge the regime. Violent overthrow is likely.
+ Dominant-party dictatorships (e.g VN) tend to last a long time.
More details in the essay "What Do We Know About Democratisation After Twenty Years?" by Barbara Geddes.
+ Monarchies are the longest-lived dictatorships. 
Thanks to the monarchical culture, which rests on 3 things: 1st, "there are clear rules in a monarchy as to who the insiders and outsiders are"- monarchies depend on "tightly knit family structures that are reinforced through intermarriage"; 2nd, "monarchies tend to have rules or norms that indicate exactly how regime rents are to be shared among the various members of the royal family"; 3rd, "monarchies tend to have institutions that allow members of the royal family to monitor the actions of the monarch and enforce the norms regarding the distribution of regime rents".

- The selectorate theory:

+ The disenfranchised are those residents who don't have the right to participate in choosing the government (=> most people throughout history).
+ "The selectorate is the set of people who can play a role in selecting the leader."
Members of the royal family (+ the nobility+ some religious leaders) in a monarchy, members of the armed forces/ the heads of each of the military branches in a military junta, etc.
+ "The winning coalition includes those people whose support is necessary for the leader to stay in power."

- Loyalty norm:
"The risk that members of the winning coalition face when they think about defecting is embodied in the ratio of the size of the winning coalition to the size of the electorate (W/S)", which "represents the probability that a member of the selectorate will be in any winning coalition" and which "indicates the probability that someone who defects from the current winning coalition will be in the next winning coalition".
=> When W/S is small=> smaller chance to be in anyone else's winning coalition=> stronger loyalty norms.
=> leaders have greater opportunities to engage in kleptocracy or corruption.
=> incentives for poor public policy.
Large W/S systems such as democracies don't have strong loyalty norms.
=> leaders have to work harder.
lower kleptocracy, lower taxation and state predation, higher economic growth, etc.

Dominant-party and personalistic dictatorships: W and W/S are both small.
=> poor government performance.
Monarchies and military juntas: W is small and W/S is large.
=> government performance's likely to be middling.

- The most interesting part is that, based on everything that has been said, leaders would prefer the system with a small winning coalition and a large selectorate, to stay in power and to enrich themselves at the expense of the citizenry (dominant-party or personalistic dictatorships); members of the winning coalition would prefer that W is small but W/S is large, for the benefits from the rulers (monarchies or military juntas); and members of the selectorate and the disenfrachised people would prefer that both W and W/S are large, i.e "everyone else prefers to live in democracies".

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