Grants Awarded

PI: Nonviolent Repression in Electoral Autocracies

Duration: 2021-2024
Funder: UKRI, ESRC New Investigator Grant

54% of the world’s population live in nondemocracies. The dominant form of nondemocracy are electoral autocracies, regimes that permit opposition parties and uncompetitive elections. To manage dissent, governments in these regimes increasing rely on strategies of nonviolent repression. Using the law, for example, they reduce spaces available for protest and restrict opposition groups’ access to funding. Restrictions on protest rights, intensified in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, are according to Civicus one of the most common strategies of political repression today, affecting two thirds of the world’s population. While international organisations’ and advanced democracies’ ability to document and condemn repressive practices is critical for defending democracy, our understanding of nonviolent repression is limited. Existing research does not adequately 1) explore strategies of repression that do not involve the use of coercion; 2) study agents of repression beyond the security apparatus; and, 3) problematise how nonviolent repression influences opposition parties and voters. Through a focus on protest authorisations, this project offers the first systematic study of how strategies of nonviolent repression influence protest coordination between different types of opposition parties and voters in electoral autocracies.

The project builds on pilots funded by the British Academy-Leverhulme Grant, and the SHS Dean’s Strategic Fund

Co-PI: Economic Downturns, Global Pandemics and Parliamentary Elections

Duration: 2021-2023
Funder: NSF, Social and Economic Sciences

Under what conditions do voters withdraw or withhold their support from governments and how do economic and pandemic stressors affect popular support for governments and political leaders? This project advances understanding of how electoral rules, electoral integrity, perceptions of regime popularity and longevity, and the nature of electoral alternatives shape government support. Using surveys timed to Russia’s 2021 parliamentary election, this project extends the Russian Election Study, the longest running election study in an autocratic setting and the only covering an extended period of retreat from democracy. The data from this project are an important resource for scholars of authoritarianism, comparative electoral behavior, and political parties, and its findings are also relevant to journalists, policymakers and the public. The award is part of a $530,721 NSF grant that supports collaborative research at Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, George Washington, and Harvard.

Co-Investigator: DEMED, Work Package 1: Causes of Democratic Backsliding

Duration: 2021-2022
Funder: ERC

The first working package of the ERC-funded DEMED project creates a unified theoretical framework of the micro-level drivers of citizens’ support for political regimes. This new theoretical framework identifies and synthesises into a single framework all the tools and strategies political regimes have used since 1900 to the present to build popular support. Emphasis is placed on conceptualising the tools, particularly authoritarian indoctrination, which are most likely to have persistent effects on citizens’ political preferences and thus lead to phenomena such as authoritarian nostalgia and democratic backsliding. The first work package of the DEMED project, in collaboration with the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, will create the first-ever global dataset that contains information on autocratic and democratic indoctrination, covering 180 countries from 1900 to today. This comprehensive new dataset will allow us to study the long-term bottom-up causes of democratisation and democratic backsliding.