Inside Autocracy: Political Survival and the Modern Prince
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CitationCarter, Brett Logan. 2014. Inside Autocracy: Political Survival and the Modern Prince. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractVirtually all African autocrats now govern with parliaments and organize regular, multiparty elections. They have little choice. Since the end of the Cold War, Western governments have required nominally democratic institutions in exchange for aid, investment, and debt relief. With violent repression impossible to conceal from the international community, life as an autocrat has grown more difficult. Since 1989, autocrats forced to govern with nominally democratic institutions have been 80% more likely to lose power than their counterparts. Between 1986 and 2000, the number of autocracies in Africa fell from 45 to 30.
The rate of democratization has slowed, for Africa's autocrats learned to survive democratic institutions. To understand how, this dissertation focuses on the Republic of Congo, ruled by Denis Sassou Nguesso for all but five years since 1979. Using original data on the Congolese elite, their political parties, elections, and the security apparatus, this dissertation finds that Africa's autocrats confront challenges old and new with different constraints. Accordingly, they find different solutions.
Whereas autocrats once relied on single parties to prevent elite coups, they now secure compliance with social tools. By redefining the pool of candidates for the regime's critical positions, Africa's autocrats employ a "politics of hope," which induces loyalty when elites are excluded from the regime. To monitor appointees, Africa's contemporary autocrats create social institutions, in which new recruits interact with trusted aides. Autocrats supplement these with parallel governments, which force elites separated by cleavages to compete against each other. When Africa's autocrats deploy these monitoring devices effectively, they forgo arbitrary purges in favor of tenure policies that reward competence.
The international community's insistence on elections creates "focal moments," when citizens sense their shared discontent. Since they believe international attention will shield them from repression, opposition leaders mobilize unrest. This institutional landscape compels autocrats to fashion electoral alliances with opposition leaders. By joining the regime they once impugned, opposition leaders sacrifice public credibility for ministerial perquisites. Popular goodwill constitutes an insurance policy, and so Africa's autocrats commission surrogates to generate it. With repression less credible, autocrats construct their security apparatuses to threaten violence without provoking it.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13065026
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