The Politics of diversion: autocratic regimes and the use of force in times of domestic predicaments

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2024-05

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Tokdemir, Efe

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Bilkent University

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English

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Abstract

When faced with a hard-to-solve domestic crisis, leaders may appeal to workaround the predicament instead of trying to solve the issue to ensure their survival as the political authority. One of the instrumental ways of overcoming the challenges of the domestic crisis through diverting the attention of public opinion could be using force against an ethnic or political group within the borders or against a country. The literature is dominated by research that heavily focuses on the diversionary motivations of democracies as they have electoral processes that give an opportunity to citizens to reward or punish the leaders for their successes or failures. However, very few studies examine the diversionary motivations of autocracies. In this thesis, I aimed to address this gap and contribute to the literature by examining the diversionary motivations of different types of autocratic regimes. I hypothesized that personalist and military autocracies are more conflict-prone than other autocracies in times of domestic crises. I constructed monadic and dyadic datasets by compiling available data. The monadic dataset consists of 258 observations of 59 countries between 1990-2001 whereas the dyadic dataset contains 123,819 observations of dyad-years between 1990-2001. To test my hypotheses, I conducted logistic regression analyses. My findings from the analyses demonstrated mixed results for the relations among domestic crises, regime type, and external and internal use of force but affirmed that personalist autocracies are more inclined to use force when faced with a domestic crisis vis-à-vis non-personalist autocracies.

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