Participation, Boycott, and Protest in Authoritarian Elections

  • Gail J. Buttorff


This chapter develops the theory of opposition strategy and sets out the conditions under which an opposition group will choose to participate in or boycott an election, and when the opposition will choose to protest following an unsuccessful boycott. The opposition’s calculus to participate, boycott, or protest, Buttorff argues, is influenced by its beliefs in the strength of the regime and the possibility of obtaining reform with the contentious strategies of boycott and protest. Importantly, the theory developed in this chapter redirects the focus away from proximal electoral variables to wider structural and institutional factors that influence opposition strategic choice. The chapter also explores how the theory can explain several important theoretical and empirical puzzles, including why opposition groups participate in elections they are bound to lose and the variation in opposition strategies across elections despite consistently unfair electoral processes.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail J. Buttorff
    • 1
  1. 1.Hobby School of Public AffairsUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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