Regime of the Future

Kevin Lewis

May 24, 2021

Why The Future Is Democratic
Christian Welzel
Journal of Democracy, April 2021, Pages 132-144


Recent accounts of democratic backsliding neglect the cultural foundations of autocracy-versus-democracy. To bring culture back in, this article demonstrates that 1) countries' membership in culture zones explains some 70 percent of the total cross-national variation in autocracy-versus-democracy; and 2) this culture-bound variation has remained astoundingly constant over time -- in spite of all the trending patterns in the global distribution of regime types over the last 120 years. Furthermore, the explanatory power of culture zones over autocracy-versus-democracy is rooted in the cultures' differentiation on "authoritarian-versus-emancipative values." Therefore, both the direction and the extent of regime change are a function of glacially accruing regime-culture misfits -- driven by generational value shifts in a predominantly emancipatory direction. Consequently, the backsliding of democracies into authoritarianism is limited to societies in which emancipative values remain underdeveloped. Contrary to the widely cited deconsolidation thesis, the ascendant generational profile of emancipative values means that the momentary challenges to democracy are unlikely to stifle democracy's long-term rise.

The Achilles Heel of Democracy? A Macro Cross-National Assessment of the Correlates of State Legitimacy
Andrew Dawson
Social Science Research, forthcoming 


This study investigates the macro-level correlates of subjective state legitimacy using a cross-national panel dataset of 82 countries from 1989 to 2014. It conducts the first comprehensive multivariate assessment of the effect of democracy, while also evaluating the effects of the nationalist principle of ethnic self-rule and state endogeneity (i.e. colonialism), net of controls. The findings suggest that -- contrary to certain theories and earlier empirical studies -- democracy has a strong and negative association with legitimacy, which is robust across different measures of democracy and model specifications. The results also provide some evidence that adhering to the nationalist principle is related to subjective state legitimacy, while suggesting that state endogeneity is not. Moreover, democracy is the strongest correlate of subjective state legitimacy whose effect becomes stronger -- rather than weaker, as some predict -- in the presence of controls. Preliminary analyses provide some support to the claim that the freedom of expression contributes to the negative democracy/state legitimacy relationship.

Is Constitutional Monarchy Good for Economic Growth?
Rok Spruk & Nuno Garoupa
George Mason University Working Paper, April 2021 


This article re-examines the relationship between constitutional monarchy and economic growth in Europe. We suggest that economic growth explains the survival of constitutional monarchy rather than vice versa. The empirical results are consistent with our hypothesis.

The Two-Pronged Middle Class: The Old Bourgeoisie, New State-Engineered Middle Class, and Democratic Development
Tomila Lankina & Alexander Libman
American Political Science Review, forthcoming 


We contribute to research on the democratic role of middle classes. Our paper distinguishes between middle classes emerging autonomously during gradual capitalist development and those fabricated rapidly as part of state-led modernization. To make the case for a conceptual distinction between these groups within one national setting, we employ author-assembled historical district data, survey, and archival materials for pre-Revolutionary Russia and its feudal estates. Our analysis reveals that the bourgeois estate of meshchane covaries with post-communist democratic competitiveness and media freedoms, our proxies of regional democratic variations. We propose two causal pathways explaining the puzzling persistence of social structure despite the Bolsheviks’ leveling ideology and post-communist autocratic consolidation: (a) processes at the juncture of familial channels of human capital transmission and the revolutionaries’ modernization drive and (b) entrepreneurial value transmission outside of state policy. Our findings help refine recent work on political regime orientations of public-sector-dependent societies subjected to authoritarian modernization.

The evolution of democratic tradition and regional variation in resistance in Nazi Germany
Wayne Geerling, Gary Magee & Russell Smyth
Southern Economic Journal, April 2021, Pages 1320-1344


Are deep‐rooted democratic traditions related to geographical manifestation of resistance to authoritarian regimes? We address this question by studying the regional pattern of the most serious form of resistance experienced in prewar Nazi Germany, namely, those acts of resistance that resulted in arrest for treason and high treason. Specifically, we examine whether spatial variations in participation in one of the significant events of the German Revolution of 1848, the Second Democratic Congress, and voter turnout in the 1924 Reichstag election are associated with precinct‐level variations in arrest for treason and high treason. We also explore whether regional communist traditions are likewise associated with later resistance. We find that each additional precinct delegate at the Congress, the presence of a past communist uprising in the precinct, and each percentage point increase in the voter turnout is associated with 0.40, 4.35, and 6.16 additional unconditional expected charges per 100,000 inhabitants respectively.

Sowing the Seeds: Radicalization as a Political Tool
Todd Lehmann & Scott Tyson
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming 


Do radicalized individuals with no logistical assistance from opposition groups generate liabilities or advantages for opposition leaders? To address this question, we develop a theory that articulates a novel strategic channel connecting radicalization, defined as self‐motivation to dissent, to repression targeting an opposition group's operational capacity or its leadership. Our main result shows that targeted repression is strictly decreasing in the proportion of radicalized citizens. We endogenize opposition leaders' decision to radicalize citizens and show that opposition leaders, even absent any direct benefit to radicalize, nevertheless invest effort into radicalization. Thus, radicalization is a political tool to deter repression by decreasing its usefulness. To better understand this strategic consequence, we analyze two common policy interventions -- economic and psychological -- and show that improving economic conditions reduces both radicalization efforts and dissent, while making individuals psychologically less susceptible to radicalization can sometimes backfire and increase dissent because it increases leaders' radicalization efforts.

Constraints and military coordination: How ICTs shape the intensity of rebel violence
Martín Macías-Medellín & Laura Atuesta
International Interactions, forthcoming 


Why and how do information and communication technologies (ICTs) shape the intensity of rebel violence? Recent studies find that ICTs can both increase and decrease such violence. We argue that, during civil wars, this effect depends on the type of ICTs. Mobile phones give rebels better military coordination to organize violence. In contrast, the internet increases the constraints of rebel groups to use violence. On the one hand, the internet increases the visibility of rebel groups forcing them to moderate their levels of violence. On the other hand, the internet gives rebels’ opponents better tools to limit the levels of rebel violence. We test these two arguments empirically with panel data of rebel violence in countries experiencing a civil war from 1989 to 2007. Through a series of negative binomial regressions, we find general support for our hypotheses. For the case of the internet, we specifically find that its effects are concentrated in more recent periods when social media became more widespread.

Can Cellphone Shutdowns Stop Terrorist Violence? Evidence from Pakistan
Fatima Mustafa
Terrorism and Political Violence, forthcoming 


While there has been growing concern about the use of technology by terrorist groups to organize and execute violence, there has been much less academic work on the effectiveness of governmental efforts to control the use of technology to prevent terrorist violence. Governments across the world have relied on network shutdowns to tackle violence, amongst other ends. Using data from one such country, Pakistan, this paper examines the effectiveness of disrupting cellphone networks as acounterterrorism strategy to tackle terrorist violence. This paper relies on daily data on terrorist violence in Pakistan from January 2012 to December 2017 combined with data on government-mandated cellphone shutdowns. The results show a statistically significant decline in the number of terrorist attacks on the day of cellphone shutdowns and an increase in terrorist attacks on the day after cellphone shutdown. Overall, it is argued that while cellphone shutdowns might displace terrorist violence from one day to the next, they are not an effective way to tackle terrorist violence.

Railroads and Reform: How Trains Strengthened the Nation State
Alexandra Cermeño, Kerstin Enflo & Johannes Lindvall
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming 


This paper examines the relationship between the coming of the railroads, the expansion of primary education, and the introduction of national school curricula. Using fine-grained data on local education outcomes in Sweden in the nineteenth century, the paper tests the idea that the development of the railroad network enabled national school inspectors to monitor remote schools more effectively. In localities to which school inspectors could travel by rail, a larger share of children attended permanent public schools and took classes in nation-building subjects such as geography and history. By contrast, the parochial interests of local and religious authorities continued to dominate in remote areas school inspectors could not reach by train. The paper argues for a causal interpretation of these findings, which are robust for the share of children in permanent schools and suggestive for the content of the curriculum. The paper therefore concludes that the railroad, the defining innovation of the First Industrial Revolution, mattered directly for the state's ability to implement public policies.

Freedom, diversity and the taste for revolt
Dario Maimone Ansaldo Patti, Alba Marino & Pietro Navarra
Kyklos, May 2021, Pages 224-242


Do freedom and social diversity affect individual preferences for revolutionary action? In this paper, we study the interplay between subjective freedom, defined as autonomy in decision‐making, and social diversity, measured through the extent of religious and/or ethno-linguistic fractionalization. Our paper is based on three hypotheses about the impact of the above two variables and their interaction on individual preferences for revolt. Our hypotheses are tested using a dataset containing information on about 44,000 individuals and covering 51 different countries during the 1990–2003 period. Our research suggests that people that define themselves as free individuals are less likely to support revolutionary actions, while the extent of fractionalization mildly affects such a probability. Interestingly, subjective freedom moderates the impact of diversity on the individual preferences for revolt if the extent of fractionalization is below a certain threshold. Instead, when above, subjective freedom enhances the impact of diversity on the taste for revolt.

The colonial roots of structural coup-proofing
Marius Mehrl & Ioannis Choulis
International Interactions, forthcoming 


Colonially inherited institutions are a key determinant of the regime type and economic outcomes of postcolonial countries. This study extends this claim to civil-military relations, arguing that former French colonies are especially likely to invest in structural coup-proofing. France created paramilitary units throughout its colonies for which many natives were recruited. After independence, these paramilitaries proved persistent and were consequently used to counterbalance the regular armed forces. In contrast, countries without existing paramilitary organizations had stronger militaries which deterred and even forcibly prevented structural coup-proofing. Quantitative tests using global data on coup-proofing and a paired comparison of civil-military relations in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana support the claim that former French colonies are more likely to heavily invest in counterbalancing. By showing how French colonial institutions provided post-independence governments with the opportunity to coup-proof, the study contributes to our understanding of civil-military relations as well as the institutional long-term effects of colonialism and foreign rule more generally.


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