The Origins of Authoritarian Rule: Three Essays on the Make-up of the Ruling Coalition, Domestic Politics, and International Conflict

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Cepenas, Simonas, Foreign Affairs - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Copeland, Dale, AS-Politics (POLI), University of Virginia
Sechser, Todd, AS-Politics (POLI), University of Virginia
Meng, Anne, AS-Politics (POLI), University of Virginia
Stam, Allan, BA-Dean Administration, University of Virginia

This dissertation explores the origins of authoritarian rule and its effects on the make-up of the ruling class, and consequently, on domestic politics and international conflict. I argue that the origins of authoritarian rule set long-lasting trajectories that continue to shape authoritarian politics for decades. Authoritarian regimes are categorized based on whether the founding leader of authoritarian regime transforms the social and political life of the preexisting state or relies on the social order and domestic institutions of the preexisting state. The former is called a regime from the bottom because it relies on people with no prior governing experience and few resources, whereas the latter is classified as a regime from the top because it relies on rich individuals that had considerable influence in economic and political affairs of the previous regime. The first paper (Chapter 2) explores the effects of these factors on regime durability and probability of elite-led challenges to the rule of authoritarian leaders. The second paper (Chapter 3) focuses on the origins of authoritarian regimes and foreign policies of authoritarian leaders. I argue that the make-up of the ruling coalition has an effect on ruler’s propensity to instigate international conflict – it makes regimes from the bottom particularly likely to pursue hawkish foreign policies. In the third and final paper (Chapter 4) of this dissertation I connect the origins of authoritarian rule to power-sharing arrangements between the leader and military. I show that domestic factors push some authoritarian leaders to share power by establishing the Ministry of Defense and appointing a defense minister. These have consequences on interstate conflict – rulers that delegate the Minister of Defense pursue international crises less frequently than leaders who hold the Defense portfolio. The empirical sections of the first two papers include 118 states and 280 authoritarian regimes over the time period of 1946 – 2010, whereas the sample for the last paper covers 115 states and 224 authoritarian regimes over the time period of 1966 – 2010. Empirical tests show strong support for my arguments.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
the make-up of the ruling coalition in authoritarian regimes
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