Prof. Branislav Slantchev (co-authored with Kelly S. Matush, UCSD)
Location: C/ María de Molina 31 bis (B), Madrid, 28006, Room 403 (4th floor)
Abstract: Authoritarian rulers sometimes repress mass political action and sometimes allow it even if it leads to social conflict. The collapse of repression is especially puzzling when rulers have reliable security forces. We develop a game-theoretic model that explores the incentives of authoritarians to repress or permit political contestation. We show that rulers with the capacity to fully repress political action create despotic regimes, but rulers with more moderate, although still formidable, capacity might opt to allow contestation instead. The status quo bias that favors regime supporters weakens their incentive to defend it. When this emboldens dissidents sufficiently to act, the ruler might abandon repression in order to expose supporters to the risk of losing their privileged position, thereby motivating them to defend the regime. Paradoxically, it is the stronger regimes that are more susceptible to an abrupt collapse of repression when their rulers take this authoritarian wager.
Paper: click here (please do not cite without author permission).