Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz, Loyalty Premiums: Vote Prices and Political Support in a Dominant-Party Regime
While electoral clientelism is common, we know little about what determines vote prices, which often vary significantly within country-elections. Extant literature offers differing predictions of whether supporters of the incumbent or outsiders receive higher-value outlays. I expect past supporters of the incumbent charge higher prices, as their ability to threaten defection helps them extract “loyalty premiums.” Further, incumbent-allied brokers will seek to provide higher payments to followers, to maintain their own networks, while parties will be loath to make high-value payments to outsiders, which might only encourage opponents’ turnout. Analyzing original panel data from Uganda, I find that ruling-party affiliates’ reports of vote prices are significantly higher than others’, suggesting that electoral clientelist strategies reward loyalty, at least in non-competitive settings.
Eun Kyung Kim, Party Strategy in Multidimensional Competition in Africa: The Example of Zambia
Just as voters have ethnic identities, they also have economic interests. Government policies create winners and losers, favoring some economic groups or sectors and disfavoring others. And to the extent that economic interests divide populations into different blocs as ethnic identities do, politicians have options for building coalitions. Using the example of Zambia, I show that the recipes for successful coalition building have varied from election to election, and that shifting bases of partisan competition eventually brought about party turnover in power. With a demonstration of multidimensional party strategies, a clear contribution of the work lies in enhancing our ability to explain partisan change and alternation in power, despite a static ethnic map.
Caroline Beer, Making Abortion Laws in Mexico: Salience and Autonomy in the Policymaking Process
What explains the changing policymaking process for abortion law in Mexico over the past century? From the 1930s until the 1970s, abortion laws across the thirty-two federal entities in Mexico were nearly identical. Between 1979 and 1987, almost half of the states liberalized abortion laws, but very little attention was paid to the reforms. Abortion suddenly emerged as a central polarizing conflict in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential elections that ushered in multiparty democracy. This article provides a comparative analysis of criminal codes and abortion law through time and across the Mexican states. It builds on the theoretical insights of U.S. public policy research on federalism and Mexican research on policymaking to present a comparative framework for understanding policymaking in federal systems. The article argues that policy salience and policy autonomy are key variables for understanding different types of policymaking processes.
David A. Steinberg, Interest Group Pressures and Currency Crises: Argentina in Comparative Perspective
This article develops and tests a political-economy explanation for the most common type of financial crisis: a currency crisis. I argue that currency crises often reflect pressures from powerful interest groups to adopt unsustainable financial policies that generate short-term booms followed by painful currency crises. To test the theory, this article uses a multi-method research design that combines cross-national statistical analyses with a case study of Argentina that draws on extensive primary sources. The quantitative analyses demonstrate that currency crises are more likely in countries with organized labor movements and large industrial sectors, and that imprudent financial policies are an important channel through which interest groups contribute to currency crises. The case study shows that Argentine policymakers adopted crisis-prone policies in response to pressures from the country’s powerful industrialists and labor unions. These findings suggest that interest group pressures help explain why currency crises are so common.
Jody LaPorte, Foreign versus Domestic Bribery: Explaining Repression in Kleptocratic Regimes
This article investigates variation in the governing strategies of wealth-seeking autocrats. Why do some kleptocrats grant political opponents significant leeway to organize, while others enforce strict limits on such activities? Through detailed analysis of post-Soviet Georgia and Kazakhstan, I trace variation in the intensity of repression back to differences in the sources of rulers’ illegal wealth. I argue that where rulers’ wealth is accumulated from society, they are constrained in their treatment of wealthy opposition leaders. In contrast, rulers who can extract bribes from foreign companies based on natural resource wealth can pursue aggressive repression without jeopardizing their illicit profits. The findings underscore the importance of rulers’ motives and informal institutions in shaping non-democratic regime outcomes.
Lawrence P. Markowitz, Beyond Kompromat: Coercion, Corruption, and Deterred Defection in Uzbekistan
Kompromat, or compromising material used against political elites, is widely considered to be essential in shoring up authoritarian durability. While it is useful in preempting or penalizing individual challengers, however, kompromat is a highly targeted and selective tool that does little to deter widespread elite defection in authoritarian regimes in the middle of a crisis. Instead, where autocrats have previously contracted on violence—coopted security for their use in repression—ruler concessions concentrate rent seeking under the national executive, creating winner-take-all stakes that makes defection prohibitively risky. Through the example of Uzbekistan’s regime durability during the 2005 Andijan uprising, this article examines the effect of this political economy of coercion on deterring elite defection.
Nicholas Rush Smith, Review Article, The Rule of Rights: Comparative Lessons from Twenty Years of South African Democracy
Reviewing four books on South African politics, this article explains outsize scholarly interest in South Africa by referencing contradictions of its democratic transition—contradictions that provide generalizable insights on democratization, law, and rights. Broadly, the literature suggests that rights form the foundation of robust democracies by stabilizing political systems, reducing violence, and lessening inequality. By contrast, proliferating rights in South Africa have had contradictory effects and, unexpectedly, enable political disorder. Ordinary citizens use South Africa’s expansive rights guarantees to make claims for greater social justice. Yet, citizens also use contrasting meanings of rights to justify violence against others, particularly foreigners. To explain these contradictory usages of rights, the article advances a meaning-making approach to the study of rights.