Elections, protest, and alternation of power

Andrew Little, Joshua Tucker, Tom LaGatta

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Canonical theories of elections assume that rules determining the winner will be followed, which necessitates separate models for democratic and nondemocratic elections. To overcome this bifurcation in the literature, we develop a model where compliance is determined endogenously. Rather than serve as a binding contract, elections are modeled solely as a public signal of the regime's popularity. However, citizens can protest against leaders who break electoral rules. Compliance is possible when the election is informative enough that citizens can coordinate on either massive protests or supporting the incumbent in the case of close results. Leaders may also step down after performing poorly in a less informative election independent of the rules, but unlike the case of rule-based alternation, this often requires citizens to protest in equilibrium. An extension shows why reports of electoral fraud are often central to post-election protests and thus why international or domestic monitoring may be required for electoral rules to be enforceable.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1142-1156
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Politics
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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