Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Dissent in Electoral Authoritarian Societies
In a forthcoming article (Comparative Political Studies,
2012 [Update: the article has been moved up to the November 2011 issue]), I use data from Azerbaijan's 2008 presidential election and 2009 referendum to evaluate dissenting votes. Votes that do not support the regime's preferred outcome could be residuals of a process of vote manufacturing directed by central or regional authorities, they could be generated by citizens, or they could be produced by some combination of citizen action and elite interference. I develop three measures of dissent using data from election returns, and assess several hypotheses to adjudicate among the competing explanations. While Azerbaijan's politics are opaque, the results suggest that interference from officials and citizen actions account for the dissent in the two votes under analysis. The paper further indicates how dissenting votes may be analyzed and interpreted in other electoral authoritarian regimes.