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The Organizational Weapon: Ruling Parties in Authoritarian Regimes


This project examines party building in authoritarian regimes. The overarching puzzle I seek to address is: why are some autocratic ruling parties stronger organizations than others? What explains variation in the institutional capacity of autocratic rule? The collection of three essays in this dissertation outline the strategic logic of party institutionalization, in addition to providing new and original ways in which to measure this key concept of authoritarian party strength. It tests previously untested hypotheses about the origins of strong autocratic parties and provides insights on the conditions under which leaders will be incentivized to rule through binding institutions. The first paper conceptualizes autocratic party strength as institutionalization and provides new ways of measuring this variable. The second paper describes the strategic logic of party institutionalization in autocracies and explains why and when some autocrats choose to tie their own hands. The third paper evaluates the thesis that parties emerging out of revolutions and independence wars tend to be more durable by examining parties that emerged out of independence struggles in Africa.

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