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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 Manipulation

The Calculus of Electoral Manipulation

(p.259) 8 The Calculus of Electoral Manipulation
The Politics of Uncertainty

Andreas Schedler

Oxford University Press

When do authoritarian rulers take recourse to electoral manipulation? If they deploy manipulative strategies to tighten their grip on state power, they should find them most useful when their hold on power is most insecure and when their control of power is most valuable. This chapter examines authoritarian responses to levels of vertical threat as well as to variations in the stakes of power. It places intertemporal trade-offs at the core of its uncertainty-centered explanation of manipulative choices. Authoritarian efforts to contain emergent uncertainties (“first-order threats”) can provoke the emergence of future uncertainties (“second-order threats”). The chapter delineates the logic of optimal manipulative balancing between these two types of threat. As it claims theoretically and corroborates empirically, hegemonic and competitive regimes differ in their manipulative management of vertical threats. They also differ in their self-protective responses to variations in the stakes of power.

Keywords:   authoritarian manipulation, threats, intertemporal tradeoffs, legitimacy costs, political stakes

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