13 - 13 June 2019

Autocracy from the Outside-In? Regional Organizations and Authoritarian Resilience

APIR seminar with Maria Debre (Maastricht University)

Discussant: Alexandros Tokhi (WZB)

We cordially invite you to the next session of our workshop series on Authoritarian Politics and International Relations at WZB! In her talk, Maria Debre addresses the international dimension of authoritarian resilience by studying how membership in regional organizations (ROs) contributes to the survival or breakdown of dictatorships. Past research has shown that membership in ROs composed of mainly democratic member states help liberalizing states to lock-in democratic reforms and consolidate democracy. However, recent studies have increasingly highlighted the ‚dark side‘ of regionalism, claiming that non-democratic regimes might exploit ROs to boost regime security. 

Maria Debre takes up this argument and provides a coherent theoretical framework to assess the relationship between ROs and authoritarian resilience. She argues that ROs with more predominantly autocratic membership will be more likely to supply resources to strengthen the survival politics of autocratic executives and thereby mitigate internal and external challengers. Based on an original dataset comprising 70 current and historic ROs, event history analysis shows that membership in ROs can, in fact, prolong the time in power for autocratic incumbents, but does not equally protect against different types of regime breakdowns. Two illustrative case studies from the Gulf region and Sub-Saharan Africa lend further support to the large-N findings. Maria Debre’s work adds to our understanding of the limits of democratization and importantly contributes to both the IR literature on the domestic effects of international factors as well as the growing comparative politics literature on the international dimensions of authoritarian resilience.  

The seminar series aims at bringing together scholars from Comparative Politics and International Relations. We invite papers combining comparative authoritarianism and IR, as well as contributions that help clarify important theoretical concepts and empirical patterns in either discipline. Colleagues interested in presenting in the workshop series should email Alex Tokhi (alexandros.tokhi@wzb.eu) or Alex Schmotz (alexander.schmotz@wzb.eu).

When: Once a month on a Tuesday afternoon (see dates below)

Where: WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin

What: A classic format: 90 minute research seminar with one paper presentation (15 min), one discussant (10), and plenty of time for Q&A

Who: All scholars from WZB and the Berlin area and anyone interested in authoritarian politics and/or international relations

The next sessions you can find here.

Organized by Alexandros Tokhi (Department Global Governance) and Alexander Schmotz (Department of Democracy & Democratisation)