Covert forms of authoritarian control remain an understudied strategy of authoritarian survival. This article uses the infiltration of the Catholic Church with secret collaborators in communist Poland to study the drivers and consequences of such covert forms of control. We theorize that subnational variation in communist infiltration is driven by differences in organizational vulnerability following WWII. In turn, we argue that the uneven degree of infiltration with pro-regime agents shaped the subsequent effectiveness of the Church to foster anti-communist attitudes. We test these predictions against competing explanations (including imperial legacies and modernization) by analyzing seven Polish surveys from the late communist period (1985-89). Our results confirm the importance of organizational vulnerability in driving the success of communist infiltration efforts and suggest that infiltration with secret agents was effective in undermining the Church’s ability to shape the political attitudes of frequent churchgoers.
How and why does protest shape participants’ attitudes? We study this issue using panel data gathered both before and after Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests. We argue that frames play a key role in this process. We find that protest participation increased alignment of protesters’ policy preferences with the main protest frames by stabilizing existing attitudes that were in alignment and changing attitudes that conflicted with the dominant frame. Attitudes on core protest issues also became more coherent. We find no comparable effects for issues less central to the protests and all effects vary as the framing and protest environment changed. In addition, we examine the mechanisms of attitude change, showing that while protesters also experience significant increases in efficacy, interest, and participation, these changes only partly explain attitudinal changes. These findings speak to both the short and long-term mechanisms by which protest participation can shape public opinion.
Many developing democracies suffer from persistent corruption and rule-of-law violations. Growing efforts have focused on establishing anti-corruption institutions to combat this culture of impunity, but success has been modest. We tackle this puzzle by focusing on the calculus of the threatened corrupt elites in undermining serious anticorruption efforts. We examine electoral manipulation, as credible anti-corruption reforms may increase pressure on corrupt elites to fraudulently maintain power in order to control anti-corruption efforts. At the same time, anti-corruption reforms can deter electoral manipulation if they sufficiently raise the costs of law-breaking. Focusing on the representative case of Romania and utilizing a variety of data sources, diagnostics and research designs, we show how credible anti-corruption efforts systematically induce electoral manipulation by the backlash coalition of corrupt politicians. However, this manipulation is constrained by electoral competition, which may be the key to longer-term political consolidation of these `imperfect' democracies.
What is the impact of repression on opposition to authoritarian rule? Studies of repression and dissent have yielded contradictory results. Some research suggests that repression reduces popular resistance while others show that it creates backlash and more dissent. In this article, we present an informational theory of repression to account for such divergent findings. We argue that the impact of repression hinges on the degree of censorship. Where alternative media is present, violence is more likely to increase support for opposition. By contrast, where alternative sources of information are limited, repression may reduce support for opposition and actually increase support for incumbents. We test and confirm these expectations with an original dataset that combines the results of a panel survey that spanned the authoritarian repression of electoral protests in Moldova in 2009 and geocoded data on the subnational variation in repression and alternative information availability. The hypothesized interaction between repression and censorship is corroborated in cross-national analysis of repression, censorship, and government support (2005–16).
This introductory essay outlines the key themes of the special issue on the long-term impact of autocracies on the political attitudes and behavior of their subjects. Here, we highlight several important areas of theoretical and empirical refinements, which can provide a more nuanced picture of the process through which authoritarian attitudinal legacies emerge and persist. First, we define the nature of attitudinal legacies and their driving mechanisms, developing a framework of competing socialization. Second, we use the competing socialization framework to explain two potential sources of heterogeneity in attitudinal and behavioral legacies: varieties of institutional features of authoritarian regimes, which affect the nature of regime socialization efforts; and variations across different subgroups of (post-)authoritarian citizens, which reflect the nature and strength of alternative socialization efforts. This new framework can help us to better understand contradictory findings in this emerging literature as well as set a new agenda for future research.
Communist regimes were avowedly leftist authoritarian regimes, a relative rarity among autocracies. The growing literature on regime legacies would lead us to expect that postcommunist citizens would be more likely to exhibit “left-authoritarian” attitudes than their counterparts elsewhere. Finding that this is the case, we rely on 157 surveys from 88 countries to test if a living through Communism legacy model can account for this surplus of left-authoritarian attitudes. Employing both aggregate and micro-level analyses, we find strong support for the predictions of this model. Moving beyond previous legacy studies, we then test a variety of hypothesized mechanisms to explain how exposure to communist rule could have led to the regime congruent left-authoritarian attitudes. Of the mechanisms tested, greater state penetration of society is associated with a strong socialization effect and religious attendance—and in particular attending Catholic religious services—is associated with weaker socialization effects.
How harshly should perpetrators of past abuses be punished, to reinforce the legitimacy of a new democracy? Drawing on sociopsychological theories, we hypothesize that prodemocratic mass attitudes are favored by the perception that defendants in transitional justice trials have been punished in a way that is morally proportional to their offenses. This perception is shaped by the social categorization of defendants and the opinions about the certainty of their guilt that predominate in the mass public. When defendants are largely seen as co-ethnics and their guilt is contested, like in the West German case, prodemocratic attitudes are likely to be strengthened by lighter punishments and undermined by harsher sanctions. The analysis of subnational variation in patterns of punishment in postwar West Germany confirms this hypothesis and shows that these attitudinal effects persist in the medium term. Our findings have implications for research on transitional justice and democratization.
It has long been assumed that the historical legacy of Soviet Communism would have an important effect on post-communist states. However, prior research has focused primarily on the institutional legacy of communism. Communism's Shadow instead turns the focus to the individuals who inhabit post-communist countries, presenting a rigorous assessment of the legacy of communism on political attitudes.
Post-communist citizens hold political, economic, and social opinions that consistently differ from individuals in other countries. Grigore Pop-Eleches and Joshua Tucker introduce two distinct frameworks to explain these differences, the first of which focuses on the effects of living in a post-communist country, and the second on living through communism. Drawing on large-scale research encompassing post-communist states and other countries around the globe, the authors demonstrate that living through communism has a clear, consistent influence on why citizens in post-communist countries are, on average, less supportive of democracy and markets and more supportive of state-provided social welfare. The longer citizens have lived through communism, especially as adults, the greater their support for beliefs associated with communist ideology—the one exception being opinions regarding gender equality.
A thorough and nuanced examination of communist legacies' lasting influence on public opinion, Communism's Shadow highlights the ways in which political beliefs can outlast institutional regimes.
This article discusses two distinctive approaches for thinking about historical legacies in the post-communist context. The first approach, which builds on the work of Ken Jowitt, emphasizes the distinctiveness of Leninist socioeconomic and political legacies, while the second approach, rooted in the writings of Andrew Janos, highlights the significant and resilient pre-communist, communist, and post-communist diversity of the countries of the former Soviet bloc. The empirical evidence reviewed in this paper suggests that both types of legacies continue to matter after a quarter-century of post-communist transitions. Thus, whereas we can still discern a distinctive and fairly uniform communist imprint in areas such as primary education and the importance of the state sector in the economy, in other areas of socioeconomic development, either communism was unable to reverse longer-term intraregional differences (e.g., with respect to GDP/capita or the size of the agrarian sector) or its initially distinctive developmental imprint has been fundamentally reshaped by post-communist economic reforms (as in the case of the massive increase in income inequality in a subset of ex-communist countries). In political terms, there is an interesting contrast between institutional trajectories (such as regime type), which largely follow pre-communist developmental differences, and individual political attitudes and behavior, where communist exceptionalism generally trumps post-communist diversity.
We investigate the effect of individual exposure to communism on support for democracy and capitalism. We examine whether this effect varies across different types of communism, at different periods of people's lives, in different countries, and across different types of individuals. To do so, we propose a modified approach to solving the APC problem that relies on (a) survey data from multiple countries (b) historically defined cohorts and (c) variation in the time-periods related to these cohorts across countries. We provide a series of robustness tests for the method, and show that results are not very sensitive to panel structure. We conclude that generally communism had an indoctrinating effect, with more exposure to communism resulting in more opposition to democracy and capitalism.
Although none of the color revolutions has proved to be completely successful in bringing about long-term democratic change, differences in outcomes among them cast light on both the possibilities and the limitations that countries face when liberalization opportunities present themselves. Comparison of Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan is instructive.
**Winner of the 2010 Best Book Award-European Politics & Society Section-APSA **Honorable Mention-2010 Ed A. Hewett Book Prize-ASEEES
The wave of neoliberal economic reforms in the developing world since the 1980s has been regarded as the result of both severe economic crises and policy pressures from global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Using comparative evidence from the initiation and implementation of IMF programs in Latin America and Eastern Europe, From Economic Crisis to Reform shows that economic crises do not necessarily persuade governments to adopt IMF-style economic policies. Instead, ideology, interests, and institutions, at both the international and domestic levels, mediate responses to such crises.
Grigore Pop-Eleches explains that the IMF's response to economic crises reflects the changing priorities of large IMF member countries. He argues that the IMF gives greater attention and favorable treatment to economic crises when they occur in economically or politically important countries. The book also shows how during the neoliberal consensus of the 1990s, economic crises triggered IMF-style reforms from governments across the ideological spectrum and how these reforms were broadly compatible with democratic politics. By contrast, during the Latin American debt crisis, the contentious politics of IMF programs reflected the ideological rivalries of the Cold War. Economic crises triggered ideologically divergent domestic policy responses and democracy was often at odds with economic adjustment. The author demonstrates that an economic crisis triggers neoliberal economic reforms only when the government and the IMF agree about the roots and severity of the crisis.