Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Un, Kheang

Second Advisor

Kuehl, Colin

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Electoral authoritarian regimes have risen in the post-Cold War era. Elections and other nominally democratic institutions such political parties and legislatures not only do not make authoritarian regimes democratize but also help them to resist democratization. However, even if authoritarian regimes adopt electoral institutions, such adoption does not mean that all authoritarian regimes can easily manipulate elections. Indeed, some regimes hang on to power barely with simple majority votes, while others easily receive supermajority electoral support. What account for variation in electoral strength of ruling parties in authoritarian regimes? I attempt to answer this question. There are four main factors theoretically attributed to the electoral strength of authoritarian regimes: regime cohesion, regime capacity, regime’s economic legitimacy, and absence of societal mobilization. Using data from Varieties of Democracy and the World Bank, I find that regime cohesion significantly explains electoral strength of the ruling parties in authoritarian regimes, whereas regime capacity and economic legitimacy display no effect. Societal mobilization has mixed effects, with civil society having no significant effect but media independence having significant negative effects. The results are consistent when triangulated with in-depth case studies of electoral authoritarian regimes in Cambodia and Malaysia.


60 pages




Northern Illinois University

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