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Foreign Pressure and the Politics of Autocratic Survival$
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Abel Escribà-Folch and Joseph Wright

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746997.001.0001

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Foreign Aid and Political Reform

Foreign Aid and Political Reform

(p.84) 4 Foreign Aid and Political Reform
Foreign Pressure and the Politics of Autocratic Survival

Abel Escribà-Folch

Joseph Wright

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how foreign aid influences autocratic regime change by focusing on the domestic political incentives autocratic leaders face when they receive foreign aid that comes with political conditions. The chapter argues that the prospects of winning competitive (or semi-competitive) elections is a useful way to think about the political costs of regime reform, and shows that autocratic regimes with broad distributional coalitions and deep political networks will be the most competitive. These factors make the trade of aid for political reform less costly to regime elites. Cross-national empirical tests show that foreign aid with credible conditionality can serve as a carrot to entice autocratic regimes to concede democracy when the political costs of liberalization are relatively low. This scenario is most likely in party regimes during the post-Cold War period. Finally, the chapter examines the case of Ghana in the 1990s to illustrate the main causal mechanism.

Keywords:   foreign aid, conditionality, political reform, dominant party regimes, support coalition, Ghana, Cold War politics

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