Allyson Lucinda Benton, "Bottom-Up Challenges to National Democracy: Mexico's (Legal) Subnational Authoritarian Enclaves"
How have Mexico’s community-based democratic institutions, known as Usos y Costumbres (UyC) or Uses and Customs systems, affected local and national politics? Although informal UyC practices exist throughout Mexico, the state of Oaxaca formally changed its electoral codes in 1995 to legalize UyC. Statistical analysis of national election results shows that Oaxacan municipalities that formally adopted UyC systems thereafter experienced higher first-place party margins and higher levels of abstention compared to non-UyC systems. That these systems helped local leaders engineer election outcomes while reducing participation, even in national elections, undermines arguments about their democratic benefits. UyC rules appear to help preserve local authoritarian enclaves, with negative consequences for national democracy.
Peter Thisted Dinesen, "Parental Transmission of Trust or Perceptions of Institutional Fairness? Generalized Trust of Non-Western Immigrants in a High-Trust Society"
Looking at young immigrants from low-trust, non-Western countries in the high-trust society of Denmark, two perspectives on how generalized trust is formed can be examined. The first is a cultural perspective emphasizing that trust is a stable cultural trait passed on from one generation to the next through parental socialization. The second is an experiential perspective emphasizing the role of perceptions of fairness of state institutions concerning equal treatment of immigrants and natives. Building on a new Danish survey, results show that both parental transmission of trust as well as perceptions of institutional fairness matter for the level of trust of young immigrants, but the impact of the latter is considerably stronger. Additional analyses show that these perceptions are mainly formed by concrete experiences of fairness of teachers in school.
Evgeny Finkel, "The Authoritarian Advantage of Horizontal Accountability: Ombudsmen in Poland and Russia"
In recent decades, the number of national level ombudsmen has more than quintupled. The institution now exists in about 120 states, many of which are new democracies, hybrid regimes, or states undergoing regime transition. Some ombudsmen are powerful and influential; others are weak and marginalized. This variation can be explained by three factors: (1) the type of regime under which the institution was created; (2) whether the ombudsman challenges the government; and (3) the ombudsman’s ability to build coalitions with other actors. Though counterintuitive, more powerful ombudsmen are those created before the transition to democracy. The implication of this argument is that the creation of ombudsmen should precede rather than follow the formal transition to democracy.
Amos J. Zehavi, "Veto Players, Path Dependency, and Reform of Public Aid Policy to Private Schools: Australia, New Zealand, and the United States"
Two main weaknesses of the new institutionalism literature, one associated with veto player theories and the other with path dependency theories, help account for the framework’s inadequacy in theorizing change, especially radical change. A comparison of the divergent development of public aid to private schools in three countries—Australia, New Zealand, and the United States—demonstrates the importance of two factors that potentially mitigate the status quo—preserving effect of veto points and path dependency: the multifaceted nature of veto points and the political clout of status quo challengers. Even in what initially appear to be highly constrained institutional systems, significant reform can occur, at either a rapid or slow pace.
Eitan Y. Alimi and Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler, "Structure of Political Opportunities and Threats, and Movement-Countermovement Interaction in Segmented Composite Regimes"
How do changes in the structure of political opportunities and threats shape movement- countermovement interaction in composite regimes where different groups within the population are divided along ethnonational lines? In cases where one movement is structurally disadvantaged and the other is structurally advantaged, valuable theoretical insights into movement-countermovement interaction can be generated. Employing the case of the Palestinian and Jewish settler movements during the 1987—1992 Intifada, three theoretical propositions are critically examined as they relate to how changes in the structure of political opportunities and threats influence the emergence and endurance of movement-countermovement interaction, the strategy and tactics of both movements, and the internal dynamics within each.
Review Article: David Art, "What Do We Know About Authoritarianism After Ten Years?"
The study of authoritarian regimes has become one of the hottest subfields in comparative politics over the last decade. The books covered in this review take up the critical questions of how authoritarian regimes are created and maintained. While this research program has profitably opened up the black box of authoritarian polities and taken their institutions seriously, there has been an asymmetric attention to the quasi-democratic features of these regimes—such as political parties and legislatures—at the expense of their coercive ones. Future work in this area would do well to address this imbalance, as well as to provide richer explanations of how institutions matter and better evidence of their effects.