Authoritarian Politics and the Outcome of Nonviolent Uprisings
This thesis examines how the internal dynamics of authoritarian regimes influence the outcome of mass nonviolent uprisings. Although research on civil resistance has identified several factors explaining why campaigns succeed or fail in overthrowing autocratic rulers, to date these accounts have largely neglected the characteristics of the regimes themselves, thus limiting our ability to understand why some break down while others remain cohesive in the face of nonviolent protests. This thesis sets out to address this gap by exploring how power struggles between autocrats and their elite allies influence regime cohesion in the face of civil resistance. I argue that the degeneration of power-sharing at the elite level into personal autocracy, where the autocrat has consolidated individual control over the regime, increases the likelihood that the regime will break down in response to civil resistance, as dissatisfied members of the ruling elite become willing to support an alternative to the status quo. In contrast, under conditions of power-sharing, elites are better able to guarantee their interests, thus giving them a greater stake in regime survival and increasing regime cohesion in response to civil resistance. Due to the methodological challenges involved in studying authoritarian regimes, this thesis uses a mixed methods approach, drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data and methods to maximise the breadth of evidence that can be used, balance the weaknesses of using either approach in isolation, and gain a more complete understanding of the connection between authoritarian politics and nonviolent uprisings. Analysis of a global sample of civil resistance campaigns supports the argument, revealing a significant association between measures of personalisation and campaign success. I then explore these results in more detail with two case studies of civil resistance in Southeast Asia. The Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos shows how the personalisation of power generated grievances amongst members of the ruling coalition, leading to the rebellion by some of Marcos’s core supporters which directly contributed to the success of the 1986 People Power revolution. The failed 2013 democracy campaign in Cambodia is then analysed as a deviant case. I conclude that, contrary to previous interpretations, prime minister Hun Sen was still constrained by a power-sharing agreement in 2013, and that this played an important role in maintaining regime cohesion against the uprising. Taken together, the results of quantitative analysis and in-depth case studies demonstrate that the internal power dynamics of authoritarian regimes have an important role to play in explaining the outcomes of civil resistance.
Advisor: Lee, Sung Yong; Johansson, Patrik
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: authoritarianism; personalism; civil resistance; Southeast Asia; Philippines; Cambodia; mixed methods
Research Type: Thesis