Electoral Volatility and Regime Survival in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes
Party system institutionalization is regarded as a critical underpinning of democracies, but its role in non-democratic systems has been understudied. In this paper, we evaluate whether the concept has meaningful and perhaps unique implications for the durability of competitive authoritarian regimes. We argue that electoral volatility—the most common measure of party system institutionalization in democracies—conveys useful information in competitive authoritarian contexts by signaling the ability of the ruling party to manage the opposition, but note that it needs to be refined to be applicable to such contexts. To this end, we construct an original data set that disaggregates electoral volatility into ruling party seat change and opposition party seat volatility, and further divide opposition party volatility into Type-A and Type-B volatility. We find robust results that democratization becomes more likely when decreases in the ruling party’s seat share are accompanied by opposition party Type-B volatility. This paper demonstrates that the concept of party system institutionalization can be useful for making sense of regime dynamics even in non-democratic contexts.
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