All working papers available upon request
The Dynamics of Everyday Protest in High-Capacity Autocracies
What determines how high-capacity, consolidated authoritarian regimes respond to "everyday" protest campaigns? I argue that protest campaigns in Moscow mobilized in two distinct settings, one characterized by policy change and sufficient information to form expectations over the risk of protest, and one by policies that had been neglected by the government and information is low. These campaigns should use different tactics against the government, to either obstruct policy change or to convey information about the grievance, and the government's response, in turn, should vary. While both types of campaigns should be promised concessions to compel immediate demobilization, when protest is anticipated, campaigns should be less likely to receive the benefit of these promises. Members of these campaigns should be also more likely to experience severe repression. I test the implications of this theory with dataset I collected, Protest Campaigns of Moscow, which contains observations on 65 protest campaigns held in Moscow, Russia, against the city government, from 2013-2018, and find support for my theory.
Anti-Opposition Crackdowns and Protest: Belarus, 2000-2019 (under review)
Autocratic anti-opposition crackdowns aim to destroy the political opposition's ability to organize and recruit participants to anti-regime protest, using intensive, highly visible repression. At the same time, crackdowns court backlash that may increase protest. This article explores how anti-opposition crackdowns are tied to variation in protest, using the case of Belarus's anti-opposition crackdown of 2010-2011. Using a unique dataset of protest from 2000-2019, I show that this crackdown was followed by a sharp decline in the incidence of protest. Rather than eliminating political protest, socio-economic protest became rare. Based on this case of a "successful" crackdown, I identify six distinguishing features of anti-opposition crackdowns and theorize about two channels through which they reduce protest. The direct deterrent effect diminishes the political opposition's capacity to protest. Second, the visibility of the crackdown, coupled with the passage of repressive laws, drives individuals and groups engaged in less threatening collective action to preemptively demobilize; this is the indirect deterrent effect. This article contributes to our understanding of the mechanism that links repression and dissent, while enhancing our knowledge of protest and repression in Belarus.
Concessions and Differential Demobilization in Autocracy
A concession is a government promise to protesters to implement a reform in the future. In autocracies, institutions cannot enforce that commitment, so once protest ends, the autocrat can renege on his promises. Protesters should anticipate this and stay mobilized, making concessions an ineffective protest response. In reality, concessions are common in autocracies, and often lead to demobilization. To understand how concessions work, I characterize a model of differential protest demobilization. Reneging depends on the coordinated, sustained mobilization of a subgroup of optimist protesters, who place some value on the autocrat's promise, and a subgroup of pessimist protesters, who only value implemented reforms. Dual coordination produces a spillover effect: as optimists demobilize in response to the promise, declining turnout demobilizes pessimists, and the promise is not fulfilled. This effect is amplified as optimists see the autocrat as more legitimate. The model is illustrated with Morocco's 2011 constitutional reform.