Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

Electoral Competitiveness in Competitive Authoritarianism in Latin America 1990-2014 1

Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

Electoral Competitiveness in Competitive Authoritarianism in Latin America 1990-2014 1

Article excerpt

Introduction

Even though the international political situation in the post-cold war world makes it much more difficult for fully authoritarian regimes to get established, we can't say that in the wake of the third democratic wave, all forms of authoritarianism would disappear completely. The very specific constellation of the international political situation led to the creation of competitive authoritarianism, in which democratic institutions exist but incumbent abuse skews the playing field against the opponents2. Due to the relatively frequent occurrence of these regimes, competitive authoritarianism has become a major focus of comparative research. Besides the question of regime stability3, the interest of researchers has mostly been aimed at the effort to explain how and when the incumbent can be defeated4 and what affects the level of electoral competitiveness5. Although the conclusions of these studies have been undeniably interesting, we also need to address some of the limitations of the contemporary research on competitive authoritarianism. As has been pointed out by some authors in the past6, there is a certain shortcoming of the existing research in the fact that it draws data mainly from large-N comparative studies. Because of these parameters, the character of our theories is rather universal, with a fairly limited explanatory potential. A feasible solution to this situation is to steer our attention to small-to-medium-N comparisons, which - thanks to closer interaction with data - can help improve the explanatory ability7. Another flaw of the existing research is that the large-N comparative studies mostly focus on older (and relatively well-known) examples, omitting many contemporary cases of competitive authoritarianism. A good example of such practice is Latin America, where, in the past ten years, competitive authoritarian regimes have been established in several countries (Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua), but so far, these cases haven't received a lot of scientific attention.

The aim of this study is to react to this situation and offer an explanation of varying degree of electoral competitiveness in competitive authoritarianism in Latin America. For that purpose, this study compares the 41 cases of elections that were carried out between 1990 and 20148, using regression analysis and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA)9. This paper takes up the research tradition of setting the goal of explaining variation within one specific regime category. Furthermore, the study tries to use data from the newly accessible database Varieties of Democracy10, which so far hasn't been used for research on elections in competitive authoritarianism and contains an abundance of variables linked to elections in hybrid regimes. However, the comparative research of competitive authoritarianism in Latin America isn't insightful only from the theoretical point of view, but also from the practical one, as elections have been recently held in some of these regimes and are going to be held in several others over the course of the next two years11. It is therefore of high importance to know which factors affect the chances of the opposition for success.

This article has several important implications for the comparative research on competitive authoritarianism. First, it undermines the value of the natural resources rent and economic statism variables. Although previously, scholars have assumed these factors to have an influence on the level of electoral competitiveness, findings of this research do not confirm this assumption. Second, contrary to the older research by Schedler12, this article concludes that some repressive strategies adopted by governments have had a statistically significant impact on the scope of electoral competitiveness. This is interesting when considering that previously, this strategy appeared to be influential only in the case of hegemonic electoral regimes. Third, the empirical part of this article suggests that in the majority of cases the different level of electoral competitiveness can be explained by a relatively small number of variables. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.