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Title: Shocks, the state, and support under electoral authoritarianism
Author: Tertytchnaya, Katerina
ISNI:       0000 0004 6501 1309
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The literature on authoritarian politics emphasises the threat unexpected shocks such as economic downturns or political and security challenges pose for regime stability. However, we know relatively little about how incumbents can influence the process by which citizens evaluate government performance and attribute blame in non-democratic regimes. To gain insights into these questions, I study how government responses to collective shocks to citizen income and security influence support for electoral authoritarian regimes, i.e. those that combine authoritarian practices with multiparty elections. I propose that when shocks make information about government performance publicly observable, illiberal governments can take action that moderates or ameliorates their effect on the levels of support they enjoy. Little constrained by constitutional rules, critical media or coalition partners, electoral authoritarians can use tactical redistribution to appease the discontented electorate on the one hand and propaganda to manipulate attributions of responsibility for the shock on the other. Repression against opposition parties and activists in this context is used rarely, and only after targeted transfers and propaganda have failed to prevent support from eroding and crowds from taking to the streets. The thesis illustrates arguments with the case of contemporary Russia - an electoral authoritarian regime with high levels of personalist rule - and leverages evidence from government and citizen responses to natural disasters, economic downturns, terror attacks and electoral protests. Empirical analysis combines original datasets on the framing of economic news in Kremlin-controlled media, the forced dismissals of government actors, the provision of tactical redistribution, and the use of repression against opposition parties and activists with over 60,000 responses from nationally and regionally representative public opinion surveys. Bringing new data and evidence from individual-level surveys to bear on the debate of how non-democratic governments manage public opinion, the thesis makes an original contribution to scholarship on authoritarian vulnerability and resilience.
Supervisor: Ansell, Ben W. ; De Vries, Catherine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; Authoritarian politics ; Public opinion ; Russia