International Pressure and Regime Change in Postcommunist Europe

Vanderhill, Rachel June, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Alexander, Gerard, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Legro, Jeffrey, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Owen, John, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Makerova, Ekaterina

My dissertation examines two inter-related questions: under what circumstances will external actors have an influence on regime change and in those situations how will it promote regime change. Based on extensive field research in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I theorize that two main variables, the strength ofthe international pressure and the receptivity of the domestic situation, explain when international institutions are most likely to be effective. The receptivity of the domestic situation is a function of the economic value of the incentives and the extent of intra-elite conflict. When the incentives offered by the external actor have high value to elites and there is intense intraelite conflict, then international institutions and states can influence the regime outcome. Drawing on elite-based theories of regime change, I argue that extemal actors can encourage regime change through offering incentives or sanctions that affect elites' regime preferences, strategies, or capabilities. For example, in Slovakia, the issue of European Union (EU) membership encouraged democratization through changing the regime preferences of the economic elite, altering the strategy of the democratic opposition, and increasing the capabilities of the opposition by assisting civil society development. I further investigate this theory through examining the influence of the EU on Romania, and the effects of the EU and Russia on Belarus and Ukraine. Over the past decade, a scholarly literature studying the "intemational dimension of democratization" has developed. Using a variety of methodologies and theoretical approaches, the existing literature demonstrates that international factors can help cause regime change. As a result, scholars can no longer immediately dismiss international influences as causally irrelevant or of secondary importance in explaining regime outcomes. I build on this existing literature by investigating three understudied or overlooked issues: the question of when will external actors have an influence, whether extemal actors promote authoritarianism through similar methods as efforts to promote democracy, and the influence of external actors on different aspects of society. Through examining these questions, my dissertation contributes to the literature by providing a better understanding ofthe complex relationship between international and domestic factors in the realm of regime change.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF text

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: