The Source of Autocratic Recalcitrance to Sanction Threats

Author: ORCID icon
Huang, Pi Cheng, Foreign Affairs - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Potter, Philip, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Sechser, Todd, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

The idea that not all autocracies are alike is increasingly accepted in international relations research. However, compared to the study of war initiation or crisis bargaining, the implication of autocratic regime types is not immediately clear in the study of economic sanctions as a coercive tool of diplomacy. In this paper, I argue that the effectiveness of sanction threats can be explained by the size of domestic audience, which differentiates between personalist targets on the one hand, and non-personalist and democratic targets on the other. Since personalist leaders are less constrained by their domestic audience, personalist targets are less likely to concede to sanction threats compared to other types of regimes. However, this mechanism requires a potential sanction to be costly to the general population, so the relationship is conditioned on the target’s trade dependence.

MA (Master of Arts)
economic sanction, autocratic regimes, coercive diplomacy
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