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Conclusion

  • Steve Hess
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter summarizes the findings revealed in the four preceding cases, reflects upon the lessons learned from this exercise, and suggests how these insights might contribute to contemporary studies on contentious politics and authoritarianism. More specifically, it draws upon the political conditions and outcomes of Taiwan, China, the Philippines and Kazakhstan to suggest how differentiating autocracies on the variable of (de)centralization can enhance our collective understanding of how certain authoritarian cases witness the rise of popular contention sustained and coordinated on a national scope while others see only a persistent pattern of localized and fragmented forms of collective action. The former outcome, the appearance of nationalized contention, substantially raises the political cost an autocracy will incur from applying coercion against his/her popular challengers. This either compels a regime to extend real concessions to the political opposition and substantially widen the tolerated political space, often leading to a negotiated political transition. Alternatively, in the event that a regime openly defies a contentious, nationally mobilized society by applying coercion against its challengers, or stealing a hard-fought election, it can face a sudden, popular backlash that overwhelms its repressive capacity, leading to regime fragmentation and collapse. In the face of nationally mobilized protest movements, the autocrat is faced with the unappealing alternatives of conceding—accepting and eventually legitimizing genuine political opposition, as occurred in Taiwan, or attempting to coerce and eliminate his/her opponents and facing the ire of mass society, leading to regime collapse and the risk of death or flight. This was the decision and outcome of Ferdinand Marcos. While it is beyond the scope of this project to suggest whether negotiated versus revolutionary outcomes are likely to lead to lasting democracy, it does support the view of scholars (Bermeo 1997; van de Walle and Bratton 1997; Bunce and Wolchik 2006, 2010) that popular protest is a critical element in bringing despots to the bargaining table if not driving their regimes to collapse entirely. In this analysis, it appears the choice of how the regime is to end remains in the hands of the dictator. But importantly, the sudden appearance of protest movements coordinated on a national scale appears to limit the available alternatives to the unpalatable choices of either negotiation or collapse.

Keywords

Authoritarian Regime Bayesian Model Average Protest Movement Autocratic Regime Contentious Politics 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.221 Carlson HallUniversity of BridgeportBridgeportUSA

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