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The Politics of UncertaintySustaining and Subverting Electoral Authoritarianism$
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Andreas Schedler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680320.001.0001

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The Calculus of Electoral Protest

The Calculus of Electoral Protest

Chapter:
(p.295) 9 The Calculus of Electoral Protest
Source:
The Politics of Uncertainty
Author(s):

Andreas Schedler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680320.003.0010

When do opposition parties boycott authoritarian elections? When do they mobilize their followers in protest against electoral authoritarianism? This chapters provides a two-pronged response. Opposition actors are reactive, it argues. They respond to existing grievances and opportunities. But they also are creative. They strive to transform given constraints and opportunities. They can do so by publicizing electoral manipulation (the informative role of protest) and by activating institutional threats (the provocative role of protest). The chapter discusses how the twin role it claims for grievances and opportunities (as independent as well as dependent variables) relates to mainstream theories of political contention and collective action. Its empirical data lend credence to both ideas. Electoral protests are adaptive to their societal and institutional environments. They are less likely when their opportunity costs are high. Yet protests are meant to be transformative too. They are more likely when their informative value and their provocative potential are high.

Keywords:   collective action, election protest, election boycott, information structures, opportunity structures

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