The Monkey Cage

We are professors of political science.

Why Now? Micro Transitions and the Arab Uprisings

We are pleased to welcome the American Political Science Association’s Comparative Democratization Section as the second section to take up our offer to provide a selection of articles from their newsletter free to the public here at The Monkey Cage . (See here for past posting of articles from Section newsletters.) Over the next three days we will post articles from the current issue of the Comparative Democratization Section Newsletter; if you like these, you should consider joining the section so you can have access to the full content of the newsletter! As these articles are longer than a typical Monkey Cage post, we will put first few paragraphs on the main page and then have a click through for the rest of the article. We will also make the article available in .pdf format. Our first article is by Ellen Lust of, Yale University [i] . The full version of the article can be downloaded here ***************** Events that shook the Arab world since January 2011—variously termed the...

Occupy the Web

AP Photo/John Minchillo
This is a guest post from sociologists Neal Caren and Sarah Gaby of UNC -Chapel Hill. The paper they are discussing is available here . While Occupy Wall Street has received most of its attention for its sustained public displays of numbers and commitment in New York City and many other locations, the movement also has an impressive online infrastructure. In addition to individual websites, multiple Twitter hashtags and dozens of Livestreams, more than 400 Facebook pages have been established in support of various US Occupy mobilizations. In order to begin to understand how activists and their supporters are using Facebook, we have been creating an archive of all the posts and comments shared on these pages since the movement began. In our working paper, we detail the data we have collected, including trends by location and major categories of posts; here we highlight some of the basic trends we have identified. The data here includes information collected up until October 17th. A...

Digital Cameras Reduce Electoral Corruption

Elections in developing countries commonly fail to deliver accountability because of manipulation, often involving collusion between corrupt election offcials and political candidates. We report the results of an experimental evaluation of Quick Count Photo Capture—a monitoring technology designed to detect the illegal sale of votes by corrupt election offcials to candidates—carried out in 471 polling centers across Afghanistan during the 2010 parliamentary elections. The intervention reduced vote counts by 25% for the candidate most likely to be buying votes and reduced the stealing of election materials by about 60%. From a new paper by Michael Callen and James Long. Find it here . A write-up in Slate is here . This did not stop candidates from finding other ways to cheat, of course. From Slate: Of course, with one avenue of electoral fraud shut down, candidates determined to circumvent the democratic process turned to other forms of cheating. Indeed, complaints of voting...

More on Qadaffi’s Death: Violent Leader Removal Increases Likelihood of Democratization

In response to my request for research on the effect of the death of dictators on the future prospects of the country in question, Michael Miller of the Australian National University sent along the following comments: You pose some very interesting and timely questions related to Qaddafi’s violent ouster and what this implies for Libya’s democratic prospects. I have some research here directly on this question. The gist is this: On average, the violent removal of an autocrat (whether by coup, rebellion, assassination, threat, or foreign assistance—it doesn’t seem to make much difference) makes it three times more likely that a country will democratize in the immediate future. About half of democratic transitions occur within five years of a violent ouster, and another quarter after a peaceful turnover between autocrats. Hence, there’s a big association between an autocratic leader leaving office and autocracy ending. I argue the main reason is that violence indicates and contributes...

Change from Within

In this dialogue with Matt Miller, Ezra Klein channels a lot of political science to poke holes in Miller’s case for a third party. Via Facebook, a political scientist friend adds this: Here’s a question for the third-party types: Why a third party, instead of capturing one of the two? Most third party boosters tend to agree with a lot of what the Democrats want, but not everything. Why not move the party in their direction, from the inside? In the 1940s/1950s, the Democratic Party wanted what most liberals at the time wanted, but they differed on some issues, most notably on race. Democrats were against civil rights, liberals were for it. But liberals worked WITHIN the party to change its direction, and they succeeded. And that change eventually worked its way through the entire party, from the presidency down through congress and the states. Why is that not the strategy, instead of the incredibly difficult “create a party from scratch” approach? To which another political scientist...

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