Fostering support for non-democratic rule?

Controlled political liberalization and popular support for non-democratic regimes
  • Marlene MaukEmail author


When the Cold War ended, many non-democratic regimes across the globe embarked on a course of controlled political liberalization, hoping to stabilize their autocratic rule by mitigating popular demands for democratization and increasing regime legitimacy. But does this strategy actually work? This article uses multi-level analyses to examine how the degree of political liberalization affects regime support in non-democratic political systems and to ascertain which mechanisms underlie this effect. Drawing on aggregate measures of political liberalization and comparative survey data from four regional survey projects and 31 non-democracies, the study’s results indicate that the degree of liberalization has no decisively positive effect on regime support, suggesting controlled political liberalization might not be an effective legitimizing strategy after all.


Autocracies Hybrid regimes Liberalization Political support Regime support 

Förderlich für nicht-demokratische Herrschaft?

Begrenzte politische Öffnung und die Unterstützung nicht-demokratischer Regime


Nach Ende des Kalten Krieges haben viele nicht-demokratische Regime weltweit einen Kurs der begrenzten politischen Öffnung eingeschlagen, um öffentliche Forderungen nach Demokratisierung zu entschärfen und auf diese Weise die Legitimität ihrer autokratischen Herrschaft zu erhöhen. Doch ist diese Strategie tatsächlich effektiv? Der Beitrag verwendet Mehrebenenanalysen, um zu untersuchen wie der Grad an politischer Öffnung die Regimerunterstützung in nicht-demokratischen politischen Systemen beeinflusst. Auf Basis von Aggregatmaßen zur politischen Öffnung und Individualdaten aus vier regionalen Umfrageprojekten und 31 Autokratien kann kein klarer positiver Effekt des Grads der politischen Öffnung auf die Regimeunterstützung nachgewiesen werden, was eine begrenzte politische Öffnung als wenig effektive Legitimationsstrategie erscheinen lässt.


Autokratien Hybride Regime Liberalisierung Politische Unterstützung Regimeunterstützung 



I am grateful to Edeltraud Roller, Nils Steiner, Carl Berning, Sven Hillen, and the participants of the 2015 DVPW General Conference as well as two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper. I would also like to thank Tizian Lehnert for his research assistance.


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PolitikwissenschaftJohannes Gutenberg-Universität MainzMainzGermany

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