Gustavo A. Flores-Macías, The Consequences of Militarizing Anti-Drug Efforts for State Capacity in Latin America: Evidence from Mexico

In response to the threat posed by drug-trafficking organizations, developing countries are increasingly relying on the armed forces for their counter-drug strategies. Drawing on the literature on violence and state capacity, this article studies how the militarization of anti-drug efforts affects state capacity along two dimensions: public safety and fiscal extraction. It advances theoretical expectations for this relationship and evaluates them in the context of Mexico. Based on subnational-level analyses, it shows that the militarization of anti-drug efforts has decreased the state’s capacity to provide public order and extract fiscal resources: homicide and kidnapping rates have increased while tax collection has decreased. Given the wide-ranging consequences of diminished state capacity, the findings have implications not only for Latin America but also across the developing world.

Anja Osei, Elite Theory and Political Transitions: Networks of Power in Ghana and Togo

This article argues that elite theories can contribute significantly to our understanding of democratization. Existing elite theories on the relationship between elite configurations and regime outcomes will be critically reviewed and then tested in two case studies, Ghana and Togo. While Ghana is one of Africa’s most democratic countries, Togo has remained an electoral autocracy. The empirical evidence is based on a unique data set that maps the interaction patterns between Members of Parliament (MPs) in each of the countries. Using social network analysis, the article shows that the elite interactions differ systematically between the countries. MPs in Ghana form a dense and strongly interconnected network that bridges ethnic and party cleavages. Moreover, MPs from different parties have developed a measure of trust in one another. In Togo, by contrast, there is much more suspicion between government and opposition, and much less cooperation.

Maria Repnikova, Contesting the State under Authoritarianism: Critical Journalists in China and Russia

While contentious acts in authoritarian systems have largely been examined in the context of democratization, little is known about the modes of contention that do not yield immediate democratic outcomes, yet push regimes to adapt and evolve in the long-term. This article theorizes about such practices through a comparative study of critical journalists in China and Russia. Drawing on in-depth interviews and participant observation in the two countries, the article presents two distinct types of boundary-spanning activity: within-the-system resistance, carried out in partnership with the state, and extraneous or defiant contestation deployed in opposition to the system. The article further demonstrates that these two types of contestation practices feed into journalists’ broader conceptions of political transitions, rooted in recent historical experiences with alternative political models.

Michael Koß, How Legislative Democracy Creates Political Parties

Scholarship on the rise of political parties mostly focuses on the electoral arena. From this perspective, the legislative arena is determined by party system properties. This article aims to show that the causal arrow points in the other direction as originally suggested by Duverger. Two mechanisms of legislative organization arguably allow for the ascendancy of political parties: control over the legislative agenda or powerful committees. A comparative analysis of thirty-six procedural reforms in the Swedish and French legislatures during the 1866–1958 period suggests that, all else being equal, a quest for procedural efficiency originating from the dynamics of legislative democracy led to the creation of powerful committees. Only if anti-system obstruction of legislation posed a threat to the survival of legislative democracy, individual legislators became willing to unilaterally surrender inherited powers to control the plenary agenda to party leaders. Since both the empowerment of committees and the centralization of agenda control occurred independent of the properties of party systems, parties are the product rather than the origin of legislative democracy.

Adnan Naseemullah and Pradeep Chhibber, Patronage, Sub-Contracted Governance, and the Limits of Electoral Coordination

Electoral coordination is central to the creation of national party systems under first-past-the-post rules, but there are instances where we see such coordination fail even at the constituency level. In this article, we argue that electoral coordination requires partisan control of patronage distribution by local bureaucracies. In electoral constituencies in which bureaucrats do not hold a monopoly over the distribution of patronage, we might see constituency-level electoral fragmentation. In constituencies in which the bureaucracy controls patronage, however, effective coordination yields Duvergerian equilibria. We formulate and test this argument through constituency- and precinct-level analysis of Pakistani elections and additional evidence from Indian elections.

Lucas I. González, Oil Rents and Patronage: The Fiscal Effects of Oil Booms in the Argentine Provinces

When do oil-dependent governments spend oil rents in expanding political machines through patronage and clientelism, as rentier theories claim, or in providing better public services? Using regression analysis for panel data and two case studies of the Argentine provinces (1983–2013), this study shows that infrastructure can rise and patronage decline during oil booms. When rents are high and the oil sector creates new jobs, incumbents tend to increase capital investment. They cannot compete with oil salaries and use infrastructure to cope with the sector’s pressures for basic services. When rents decline in contexts of job destruction in the oil sector, and the rest of the private sector cannot absorb the layoffs, incumbents tend to increase patronage to contain social turmoil and secure core voters.

Kai-Ping Huang and Paul Schuler, Research Note, A Status Quo Theory of Generalized Trust: Why Trust May Reduce the Prospects for Democratic Transition in East Asia

Does generalized trust lead to democratic transitions? Despite the voluminous literature on trust and democracy, very little examines the link between trust and democratic regime change. We theorize that generalized trust should lead to support for the status quo rather than support for regime change. In democracies, this means that citizens in effect support the democratic regime. However, in autocracies this status quo bias means that trusting individuals support the autocracy. We test this argument using data from the Asian Barometer Survey. Our simultaneous equation model shows that generalized trust has a negative impact on support for regime change regardless of regime type. This suggests that generalized trust—if anything—constitutes a headwind against democratic regime change rather than a facilitating factor.

Brian J. Fried, Review Article, Jumping off the Fence: The Continuation and Erosion of Clientelism

This article reviews three books that seek to explain transitions away from undemocratic practices and why they rarely occur. Patronal Politics traces political developments since the collapse of communism in multiple countries in Eastern Europe to show that the loss of power by a particular clientelist network generally occurs only when its leader is unpopular and viewed as unlikely to remain in office. Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism relies more heavily on modernization theory to explain transitions away from clientelism. Meanwhile, The Political Logic of Poverty Relief examines the distinct impacts of clientelist and programmatic polices on welfare and electoral outcomes in Mexico. In examining these books, this review article argues that a thicker account of the microfoundations that lead individuals to accept undemocratic norms of behavior would strengthen our understanding of how political systems sustain clientelist practices. The analysis sheds light on the difficult path that can lead individuals and societies to substitute such practices with those that support relatively impartial interactions and programmatic policies.