The Single-Party Dictator's Dilemma: Information in Elections without Opposition

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The literature on authoritarian institutions points to nationwide elections as a mechanism for learning about the preferences of citizens. In using elections in this way, however, authoritarians face a trade-off between gathering reliable information and guaranteeing electoral victory. In this article, we explore how single-party regimes manage this trade-off and the particular types of information available to them. Using candidatelevel data from Vietnam, we demonstrate that single-party regimes, in particular, forsake information on overall regime support and strength of opposition in favor of information on the popularity of local notables and the compliance of local officials with central mandates. In addition, we show that ex ante electioneering is less risky than ex post fraud at achieving these goals. © 2011 The Comparative Legislative Research Center of The University of Iowa.






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Malesky, E, and P Schuler (2011). The Single-Party Dictator's Dilemma: Information in Elections without Opposition. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 36(4). pp. 491–530. 10.1111/j.1939-9162.2011.00025.x Retrieved from

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Edmund Malesky

Professor of Political Science

Malesky is a specialist on Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam. Currently, Malesky's research agenda is very much at the intersection of Comparative and International Political Economy, falling into three major categories: 1) Authoritarian political institutions and their consequences; 2) The political influence of foreign direct investment and multinational corporations; and 3) Political institutions, private business development, and formalization.

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