Sharan Grewal and Steve L. Monroe, Down and Out: Founding Elections and Disillusionment with Democracy in Egypt and Tunisia
Which electoral losers become the most disillusioned with democracy following the first free and fair elections? Exploiting surveys before and after founding elections in post-Arab Spring Egypt and Tunisia, we find that the most disillusioned losers were those residing in areas where the losing parties were strongest. We argue that expectations matter. Losers whose parties are strong locally tend to overestimate their popularity nationally and thus become more disillusioned after the first elections. Beyond these attitudinal results, we find that these areas witnessed a greater increase in support for candidates from former autocratic regimes in subsequent elections. These findings clarify subnational variation in electoral losers’ attitudes towards democracy. They suggest that decentralization may keep otherwise disillusioned losers invested in democracy.
Andrei Zhirnov and Mariam Mufti, The Electoral Constraints on Inter-Party Mobility of Candidates: The Case of Pakistan
This article investigates the electoral constraints on the inter-party mobility of candidates. We argue that the prevalent mode of interactions among candidates, voters, and parties in local, district-level electoral markets shapes the strategic constraints faced by potential party switchers. We suggest that strong linkages between voters and political parties reduce the market value of the candidates outside of their political parties, thereby constraining their inter-party mobility. These expectations are evaluated using candidate- and district-level data from Pakistan from 1988–2013. The results show that the strength of voter-party linkages in an electoral district, as measured by the lack of electoral volatility and the extent of straight-ticket voting in national and provincial elections, has a positive effect on the propensity of candidates to switch parties.
Eduardo Dargent and Madai Urteaga, The Power of the Seed: Timing, Quick Structural Change, and Genetically Modified Crop Regulations in the Andes
Regulation concerning GM crops around the world range from total prohibition to full openness and state-wide promotion. The Andean countries in Latin America provide an interesting setting to analyze the possible causes for this variation. Despite having similar conditions to plant GM crops, Colombia and Bolivia allow GM crop cultivation, while Ecuador and Peru do not. Interestingly, Evo Morales, Bolivia’s leftist president, could not ban GM crop production, and Alan Garcia (2006–2011) in Peru, despite his pro-GM stance, failed to adopt a permissive regulation. We argue that two factors explain these divergent outcomes regarding GM seed sowing and reform efforts in Andean countries: (i) the time in which regulatory measures were attempted, and (ii) the quick structural change that GM seeds generate once introduced into a country.
Carolyn E. Holmes, The Politics of “Non-Political” Activism in Democratic South Africa
Twenty years after the first democratic elections in South Africa, organizations representing key voting constituencies—youth and the economically marginalized—are becoming major forces of opposition to the ANC-led government while explicitly framing their activities as non-political. They prefer instead to talk in terms of “rights” and “activism.” Drawing from fieldwork and online publications of three opposition organizations—#RhodesMustFall, Abahlali baseMjondolo, and Afriforum— this article argues that the abandonment of “politics” is more than rhetorical positioning. By framing their actions as non-political, these groups engage in a deep-seated critique of the possibilities presented by democratic politics and a lack of perceived efficacy or legitimacy of institutionalized contestation. Perhaps more importantly, it means that opposition politics are occurring in an environment without institutional incentives for cooperation.
Adnan Naseemullah, Violence, Rents, and Investment: Explaining Growth Divergence in South Asia
Why have growth rates diverged between India and Pakistan since the 1990s? This article argues that differences in perceptions of political instability through the locations of political violence in the two countries have impacted growth through investment decisions. In Pakistan, kidnapping and terrorism in major cities has led to the domination of rent-implicated investment, thus limiting growth. In India, by contrast, political violence in the periphery or targeting minorities remains socially distant to the perspectives of investors, leading to more productive investments, and thus higher growth. The article provides a new set of explanations for differences in growth among middle-income countries by highlighting political instability and the salience of violence, the demand for rents as investments, and the limits of institutional explanations for growth outcomes.
Konrad Kalicki, Security Fears and Bureaucratic Rivalry: Admitting Foreign Labor in Japan and Taiwan
To remain competitive in the global marketplace, states have increasingly been forced to supplement their domestic labor resources with foreign manpower. However, their admission policies for low-skilled workers exhibit puzzling cross-national variation. What determines this policy divergence among advanced economies that share many structural and institutional properties? This article offers a statist explanation. It argues that this variation is, at base, caused by two interrelated factors: the state’s perception of security risks involved in admitting particular ethno-national groups of labor migrants and inter-ministerial bargaining over policy authority within the state apparatus. This argument is developed through a comparison of the contrasting and empirically underexplored cases of foreign labor policy formation in Japan and Taiwan.
Collin Grimes and David Pion-Berlin, Power Relations, Coalitions, and Rent Control: Reforming the Military’s Natural Resource Levies
Levies imposed on the export earnings of natural resource producers provide the armed forces with sizeable off-budget revenue not subject to oversight or scrutiny. Why do some nations succeed at reforming or eliminating these levies, while others do not? This article argues that outcomes have to do with the balance of coalition strength between civilians and the armed forces. In the contemporary period, the military can no longer go at it alone, relying on tactics of coercive intimidation. Like civilians, it must find political party allies who can compete legislatively on its behalf. How coalitions congeal, come unraveled, or fail to develop is assessed through a small-N comparative study of Ecuador and Chile.
David Andersen, Review Article, Comparative Democratization and Democratic Backsliding: The Case for a Historical-Institutional Approach
In light of the alleged democratic recession in recent years, comparative democratization research is now taking a turn to more party-political, agency-centered, and historically contingent explanations of democratic backsliding. I review three recent books that represent this trend to varying degrees. Based on a historical-institutional approach, I assess whether the theoretical propositions of these books are fruitful for explaining the gradual backsliding to competitive authoritarianism and illiberalism in recent decades. I find that the propositions in How Democracies Die in particular risk leading to excessively voluntarist conclusions that are insensitive to historical path dependencies. The other two books better capture the ways in which domestic institutional legacies have shaped democratic backsliding around the globe. I end the review by specifying two models that explain backslidings as institutional responses to 1) international “exogenous” shocks or 2) “endogenous” demands unleashed by dynamics of the democratic transition itself. I show that these two models provide a more comprehensive understanding of a diverse set of the most infamous recent backslidings in the United States, Venezuela, Hungary, and Turkey.