Foreign Pressure and the Politics of Autocratic Survival

ISBN : 9780198746997

Abel Escriba-Folch; Joseph Wright
352 Pages
177 x 240 mm
Pub date
Oct 2015
Oxford Studies in Democratization
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Can coercive foreign policy destabilize autocratic regimes? Can democracy be promoted from abroad? This book examines how foreign policy tools such as aid, economic sanctions, human rights shaming and prosecutions, and military intervention influence the survival of autocratic regimes. Foreign pressure destabilizes autocracies through three mechanisms: limiting the regime's capacity to maintain support; undermining its repressive capacity; and altering the expected utility of stepping down for political elites. Foreign Pressure and the Politics of Autocratic Survival distinguishes between three types of autocracies: personalist rule, party-based regimes, and military dictatorships. These distinct institutional settings influence the dictators' strategies for surviving in power as well as the propensity with which their leaders are punished after a regime transition. Consequently, the influence of foreign pressure varies across autocratic regime types. Further, the authors show that when foreign coercion destabilizes an autocracy, this does not always lead to democratic regime change because different regimes breakdown in distinct ways. While democratization is often equated with the demise of autocratic rule, it is just one possible outcome after an autocratic regime collapses. Many times, instead of democratization, externally-induced regime collapse means that a new dictatorship replaces the old one. This theory is tested against an extensive analysis of all dictatorships since 1946, and historical cases which trace the causal process in instances where foreign policy tools helped oust dictatorships. Oxford Studies in Democratization is a series for scholars and students of comparative politics and related disciplines. Volumes concentrate on the comparative study of the democratization process that accompanied the decline and termination of the cold war. The geographical focus of the series is primarily Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern and Eastern Europe, and relevant experiences in Africa and Asia. The series editor is Laurence Whitehead, Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.


1. Introduction
2. Autocratic Regimes and Their Collapse
3. Foreign Pressure and Autocratic Survival
4. Foreign Aid and Political Reform
5. Economic Sanctions and the Defeat of Dictators
6. Naming and Shaming Dictatorships
7. Do Human Rights Prosecutions Destabilize Dictatorships?
8. Military Intervention and Regime Change
9. Conclusion

About the author: 

Abel Escriba-Folch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. His research interests include authoritarian regimes survival and their institutions, democratization, repression, transitional justice, and how international factors influence domestic politics in autocratic contexts. He has published, among others, in International Organization, British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Peace Research, Democratization, European Journal of Political Research, International Political Science Review, among others.; Joseph Wright teaches at Pennsylvania State University. He completed his Ph.D. at UCLA, and has held post-doctoral positions at Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame. He studies comparative political economy with a particular interest in how international factors - such as foreign aid, economic sanctions, human rights prosecutions, and migration - influence domestic politics in autocratic regimes. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Minerva Research Initiative; and he teaches courses on authoritarian politics.

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