Carrot or Stick? Examining the Effect of Judicial Independence and Repression on Authoritarian Regime Stability and Leader Survival



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This dissertation examines the effects that two different strategies, “carrots” and “sticks” respectively, have on authoritarian regime stability and survival. First, the argument is made against the use of repression (stick) by autocrats given its backlash effect. This falls in line with similar arguments made in past scholarly research on the topic. The contribution primarily comes from the second argument in favor of independent judiciaries (carrot) as a non-violent alternative strategy. Judicial independence is introduced as a legitimate channel through which individuals can address their grievances, discouraging these grievances form manifesting into acts of violence. Theoretical arguments are tested first empirically through traditional aggregate level data analysis for authoritarian states between 1948-2007 period. Additional testing is done at the individual level of analysis, by running an experiment using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to assess individual decision-making. Findings demonstrate that repression is associated with an increased probability of experiencing civil conflict and being violently removed from power, while judicial independence decreases these probabilities.



Authoritarianism, Judicial independence, Political persecution