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Photo: “Election posters for EU Parliament election in Luxembourg, various“, by Bdx, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Miller, Michael K. “Elections, information, and policy responsiveness in autocratic regimes.” Comparative Political Studies 48, no. 6 (2015): 691-727.


The responsiveness of policy to election results is a central component of democracy. Do the outcomes of autocratic elections also affect policy choice? Even when the threat of turnover is low, I argue that autocratic elections influence policy by allowing citizens to signal dissatisfaction with the regime. Supplementing existing work, this study explains how this opposition is communicated credibly and then shows that ruling parties use this information to calibrate policy concessions. In the first cross-country analysis of autocratic election outcomes and policy choice, I find that negative electoral shocks to ruling parties predict increases in education and social welfare spending and decreases in military spending following elections. In contrast, there is no policy effect leading up to elections, in response to violent contestation, or in resource-rich regimes, illustrating a potential mechanism for the resource curse.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.