More than Just the Final Straw: Stolen Elections as Revolutionary Triggers

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Keyword: Revolution protest democratization philippines serbia madagascar georgia ukraine
Publication year: 2005

Stolen elections are triggering events that overcome barriers to revolutionary action against electoral authoritarian regimes. They mobilize ordinary citizens, strengthen the opposition, and divide the regime. As neo-institutionalist theories of revolution suggest, the relative openness of electoral authoritarianism inhibits mass protest. But when elections are stolen, regimes undergo “closure,” increasing the probability of protest. The failure of other potential revolutionary precipitants underlines that stolen elections are not merely replaceable final straws. Stolen elections have not only been crucial for the emergence of revolutionary situations, they have shaped outcomes as well. Linking popular mobilization to fraudulent elections has become part of the repertoire of contention of democratic revolutionaries.


Philipp Kuntz

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Mark R. Thompson

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