Electoral Competition in Hybrid Regimes: Examining Incumbent and Opposition Behavior in Post-Soviet States
AdvisorWillerton, John P.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation asks how electoral factors shape incumbent and opposition strategies in non-democratic post-Soviet hybrid regimes. The study of hybrid regimes recognizes that the basic presence of elections does not represent the existence of democracy, and that elected leaders can and do engage in an authoritarian behavior. Given that as many as a third of states worldwide fall into this category, elections in these states are routinely unfair and imbalanced. Incumbent and regime candidates interfere in the electoral process and can attempt to suppress opposition behavior. Yet incumbents also ask for genuine voter support, while opposition parties and candidates also continue to participate in this unfair process. This dissertation seeks to understand the various strategies used by both opposition and incumbent actors given these conditions. While some of these elections are rather predictable, others are highly contested and offer the opposition an opportunity for victory. Incumbent dominance within the state can vary from election to election as well. I analyze the relationship between these two factors, electoral contestation and incumbent dominance, on the electoral strategies of incumbent and opposition actors. These strategies include attempts at overt and legal voter persuasion as well as electoral interference. To do this, in this dissertation I develop a theory that recognizes that the primary goal for any actor during an election may not always be victory. Instead, these goals can vary for opposition and incumbent actors depending on the electoral conditions present. This dissertation examines these relationships in the post-Soviet region using both quantitative statistical analyses as well as case study comparisons. It finds that both incumbent and opposition actors vary their electoral strategies depending on the conditions present during the election, which I argue demonstrates the existence of different goals for elections.
Degree ProgramGraduate College