May 2018

Panel discussion

On 18 May the GIGA hosted a public round table entitled “Future Challenges to Authoritarianism Research.” The panellists included Heike Holbig, senior research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies and professor at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main; Ilyas Saliba, human rights defender and advocacy officer at the Middle East desk of Amnesty International in Germany; and Adele del Sordi, postdoctoral research fellow at the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies at LMU Munich. The round table was moderated by André Bank, senior research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies and speaker of the IDCAR network.

Listen to the full discussion here

Heike Holbig discussed the changes in the research environment in China, drawing on her substantial experience of more than 30 years of conducting field research in the country. Adele del Sordi introduced the main arguments and recommendations of the recently published open-source book ‘Research, Ethics, and Risk in the Authoritarian Field’, which she co-authored with colleagues from the University of Amsterdam’s research project “Authoritarianism in the Global Age.” Last but not least, Ilyas Saliba presented the “SAFEResearch” initiative, a peer-to-peer network for fieldwork-based research, and talked about his own research experiences in Egypt and Morocco.

The panelists and participants engaged in a lively exchange on their personal experiences and strategies in dealing with the often challenging authoritarian research environments. This discussion included the development of ethical procedures, safety protocols, data protection and confidentiality issues, and ways of coping with stress and avoiding mental health problems. The participants also discussed suggestions for improving the training and preparation of researchers at the postdoctoral, doctoral, and master’s levels. The roundtable concluded with the positive and encouraging aspects of authoritarian field research, which highlight how, despite many difficulties, the results of this work can be personally and academically enriching. In the end, such research contributes greatly to our knowledge about those political regimes in which the majority of people around the world live today.

Posted on 30.05.2018
Network Conferences

On 16–18 May 2018, the concluding IDCAR Network Conference (IDCAR-5) was held at the GIGA in Hamburg. With 24 scholars from eleven academic institutions in attendance, the conference provided a forum to reflect on the network’s four years of work as well as to look ahead and identify future avenues in the field of authoritarian research.

André Bank, speaker of the IDCAR network, opened the conference with a review of the network’s activities and its researchers’ accomplishments. The subsequent presentations outlined the results of projects supported by IDCAR seed grants on new directions in authoritarianism research in Africa, the post-Soviet space, and beyond. Various members of the network also presented their research findings on, among other things, Arab citizens’ perceptions of the EU, authoritarian gravity centres in Latin America and the Middle East, and the alliance options of authoritarian regimes. The participants also engaged in fruitful discussions on new avenues for research using innovative data, such as the importance of state visits as a measurement of authoritarian linkages, and took into consideration recent conceptual and political developments such as the relevance and effects of international sanctions. The conference concluded with a public round table on the future challenges to authoritarianism research.

Overall, the presentations and discussions covered a wide range of topics and geographical areas, with issues from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, and the United States brought to the table. Although the work of the IDCAR network is gradually coming to an end, we are deeply satisfied with the results and excited about the future lines of research that have opened up as a result.

Posted on 30.05.2018

February 2018


In December 2017 the journal Democratization published the Special Issue guest-edited by IDCAR’s Steering Committee members André Bank and Kurt Weyland.

The Special Issue includes seven research articles and embraces case studies as well as conceptual articles that were first presented at the Second IDCAR network conference held in October 2015 at the University of Texas at Austin. The issue includes articles written by IDCAR members based across 5 different universities and research centers in Europe and the United States. The authors highlight how patterns of diffusion and cooperation among non-democratic regimes differ in goal, mode, impulse, and scope, stressing the primacy of pragmatic interests over an encompassing ideology in most contemporary regimes.

The issue opens with Kurt Weyland’s introduction juxtaposing self-interest and ideology as driving motivations for authoritarian regimes’ cooperation. Kurt Weyland opens the section of empirical articles with a case study of fascism in Western Europe in the 20th Century to highlight the strong, wide-ranging contagion effects that such ideological forces can harbor. Carlos de la Torre explores the mechanisms employed by Hugo Chavez during the failed attempts at diffusing Bolivarianism across South America. May Darwich’s article deals with the Muslim Brotherhood and the diffusion and non-diffusion of its repression at the intersection of regional and domestic spheres in the Middle East. Finally, Aron Buzogány argues that the democratic regression in Hungary did not result from the adoption of previous Russian policies but was rather a result of aligning mutual interests.

Jason Brownlee then returns to a more abstract, conceptual framework challenging the widely held view that states such as Russia and China subvert democracy by arguing that they instead defend their current political order.

Finally, André Bank’s conclusion summarizes the above discussions of ideological and non-ideological diffusion of authoritarianism and encourages to expand analyses to historical eras to encourage the study of the less abstract, more concrete mechanisms by which authoritarian diffusion and cooperation unfold.

Posted on 09.02.2018

November 2017


In cooperation with the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), the IDCAR network hosted the preview event for Kurt Weyland's new book, 'Autocratic Waves in Europe and Latin America' in Berlin on 15 November 2017.

During his lecture, Professor Weyland discussed the historical roots of autocratic regimes such as Cuba, Venezuela, and the Nazi regime in Germany specifying the core conditions that precipitated their rise. The patterns of diffusion and counter-diffusion in such regimes was described by Weyland as wave-like in that disproportionate responses by conservatives to potential unrest stimulated an even more aggressive responses that led to the rise of harsher, more autocratic rule. Drawing on cognitive psychological mechanisms of bounded rationality, Weyland argued that these reactions where people in crisis situations overrate the significance of vivid events and overreact accordingly.

Comparing these historical waves to the current situation in the US, Weyland suggested that there was little cause for fear of an emergent autocratic regime under President Donald Trump. The core argument for his belief is that the current political climate is only based on populism rather than some form of acute crisis. While being a significant change in the tone of US politics, Weyland argues, the Trump administration is only pushing a populist government and has not yet made any drastic action that could stimulate enough unrest to trigger an authoritarian overreaction. Weyland believes that the US is simply adjusting to the populist mindset that Europe and Latin America have experienced many times in the past.

Posted on 23.11.2017
Panel discussion

As part of its dissemination strategy, IDCAR hosted a panel discussion about the shrinking spaces for NGOs currently occurring alongside the rise of authoritarian practices around the world on 15 November 2017 at the Leibniz Association in Berlin. Panelists Dr Thomas Richter from GIGA (Hamburg), Saskia Brechenmacher from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Washington D.C., USA) and Dr Julia Duchrow from Brot für die Welt (Berlin) each presented and then discussed the topic from different angles, ranging from global and regional trends, to the different repressive and exclusionary strategies and tactics to possible counter-measures. The panel was moderated by Dr Julia Grauvogel from GIGA (Hamburg).

The roundtable highlighted the disconnect between the foreign policy decisions of Western governments that support authoritarian regimes and Western support for NGOs targeted by the same regimes. Other factors such as increased corruption and the risk averse nature of donors were also noted as reasons for shrinking spaces for NGOs during this era of worldwide democratic backslide. It was generally agreed that Western democracies need to engage more with NGOs in authoritarian regimes and provide them with short term flexible funding responses.

The panelists engaged in a vivid discussion with the audience representing the wide spectrum of the policy community, with many participants from political foundations which are especially affected by the shrinking spaces phenomenon.

Posted on 23.11.2017
Public Lecture

On 15 November Kurt Weyland will present his new book in Berlin at the WZB.

All over the world, authoritarianism seems to be advancing. Developments in Turkey and Venezuela, right-wing populism in Europe, the backlash against the Arab Spring, and the ever growing role of China and Russia on the world stage are cases in point.

What can we learn from previous autocratic waves?

In his new book on autocratic waves in Europe and Latin America, Kurt Weyland examines the diffusion of authoritarian rule in the interwar years and the 1960s and 1970s. Weyland attributes these autocratic waves to an overreaction on the part of conservative circles: Overestimating the Russian and Cuban revolutions, they promoted aggressive authoritarian counter-diffusion strategies. These disproportionate responses to communist challenges reflect core mechanisms of bounded rationality. Inferential shortcuts induce people to overrate the significance of dramatic, vivid events and to draw remarkably firm conclusions from such outstanding occurrences. Accordingly, the radical left overestimated the replicability of the Russian and Cuban Revolutions – but the reactionary right did so as well. As conservatives feared communism, their panic prompted the wave-like adoption of reactionary autocracy – a trajectory differing from the spread of right-wing populism in contemporary democracies.

WZB and IDCAR jointly host this event at the WZB's premises in Berlin at 5.30pm. Alexander Schmotz (WZB) will be the moderator, Bert Hoffmann (GIGA) will give an introduction, Johannes Gerschewski (Humboldt University) will serve as the discussant.

Afterwards, a reception with food and drinks will take place.

Please register until 10 November by following the instructions

Posted on 08.11.2017

August 2017


Is America’s first populist president since Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) a threat to the foundations of liberal democracy in the United States? This question is posed by Kurt Weyland in his article in the “Monkey Cage”, Washington Post, August 11. Professor Weyland identifies four main barriers that is likely to protect the liberal democracy in the United States from serious damage.

To read the article, click here.

Kurt Weyland is a member of the IDCAR-Network whose reaserch focus is democratization, authoritarian rule, and populism in Latin America and Europe. He is a Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts at the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.

The Monkey Cage is a forum at the Washington Post where political scientists can promote their research findings to a broader audience.

Posted on 15.08.2017

June 2017


On the 1st of June, Jason Brownlee, professor at the University of Texas at Austin and member of the IDCAR-network, published an article in the forum “Monkey Cage” in the Washington Post. Drawing upon findings from his article “The limited reach of authoritarian powers” in IDCAR's Democratization Special Issue, Jason Brownlee discusses the claims of authoritarian promotion. He highlights economic conditions as relevant for democratic breakdown and claims that aggregate trends demonstrate that relatively few countries have wavered between regime types.

To read the Monkey Cage article in the Washington Post, click here.

To read more about the trends in democratic breakdown, read the full article in Democratization here.

The Monkey Cage is a forum at the Washington Post where political scientists can promote their research findings to a broader audience.

Posted on 06.06.2017

May 2017

Lectures and Presentations

On the 9th of May, Dag Tanneberg from the University of Potsdam (formerly WZB) held a presentation at the GIGA Hamburg in an open meeting of the Research Team “Authoritarian Politics”

Dag Tanneberg (Dipl.-Pol.) presented his work at the GIGA Hamburg on 9th May. The talk about “How political repression discourages coups” introduced the Research Team "Authoritarian Politics" to a chapter of his upcoming dissertation. In the dissertation, Dag Tanneberg discusses political repression in authoritarian regimes and asks whether these regimes benefit from repression when confronted with political opposition. His dissertation aims at providing new insights into the interrelationship between violence and restrictions.

Dag Tanneberg’s main research focus is on political repression. Earlier, he was a researcher of the Research Unit “Democracy and Democratization” at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, a partner institution of the IDCAR network.

For more information about Dag Tanneberg, please visit the following link.

Posted on 24.05.2017
Lectures and Presentations

The IDCAR Network and RP1 jointly organized a presentation about free market authoritarianism

On Thursday 27th April, Dr. Tobias Rupprecht, Lecturer in Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Exeter in the UK, held a presentation about free market authoritarianism in the world's semi-periphery. The presentation was organized by the IDCAR Network and RP1 and took place at the GIGA in Hamburg. Participants listened to the topic “How to historicise the global revival of economic liberalism in the late 20th century? The entangled roots of free market authoritarianism in the world's semi-periphery” and engaged in a lively discussion.

Dr. Tobias Rupprecht published the book Soviet Internationalism After Stalin: Interaction and Exchange Between the USSR and Latin America During the Cold War in 2015 with Cambridge University Press. In a related project, he is examining how Chilean economic reforms during the Pinochet regime impacted ideas about free market authoritarianism and economic liberalism in Eastern European states in the late 1980s and 1990s. During the presentation, Dr. Rupprecht problematized the view of a center-periphery spread of ideas that impacted the implementation of free market authoritarianism in Chile. In turn, the Chilean neo-liberal economic model later had an impact on the transformation and political organization in the Soviet Union/Russia.

To learn more about the research of Dr. Tobias Rupprecht, please visit the following webpage.

Posted on 09.05.2017

March 2017


The bi-annual conference of the Comparative Politics Section of the German Political Science Association (DVPW) at the University Tübingen from March 15-17, 2017 brought together many IDCAR members.

Christoph H. Stefes and Betcy Jose (University of Colorado, Denver) presented their paper “Contesting and Shaping International Norms: The Neglected Side of Autocracy Promotion” as part of the panel “Same, Same but Different? Comparing the International Promotion of Democracy and Autocracy.”

Thomas Richter and Christian von Soest (GIGA) chaired the panel “State Spending and Taxation in Democracies and Autocracies: Comparing Patterns of Resource Management.“ As part of this panel, Richter presented a new paper titled "Taxation and the Formation of Political Institutions: An Explorative Analysis.”

As part of the panel “Dimensions of Authoritarianism,” Thomas Demmelhuber and Tobias Zumbrägel (University of Erlangen) presented the paper "Regional Organizations as Transmission Belt and Learning Room of Authoritarianism: Comparative Perspectives and Empirical Evidence” from their DFG project with Marianne Kneuer. André Bank also presented his paper “Authoritarian Learning and Transnational Diffusion.”

As part of the panel “Bridging Comparative Politics and Area Studies,” Christian von Soest (GIGA) and Alexander Stroh (University of Bayreuth) introduced their paper “Comparing across World Regions: Assets and Pitfalls.” André Bank (GIGA) presented a second paper entitled “Comparative Area Studies and the Study of Middle East Politics after the Arab Uprisings.”

The panel “Why Wrong Is Right: Justifying Exclusion and Repression in Autocracies and Democracies,” chaired by Maria Josua (GIGA), featured a new piece by Aurel Croissant, David Kuehn, Tanja Eschenauer (Heidelberg University), titled “The ‘Dictator’s Endgame’: Explaining Military Behavior in Nonviolent Anti-Incumbent Mass Protests.”

Alexander Schmotz (King's College, London) also presented his piece “Revolution Gone Awry: Popular Uprisings, Regime Breakdown, and State Failure.”

For more information on the Conference, click here.

Posted on 02.03.2017

February 2017


Network members Christian von Soest, Thomas Richter, Georg Strüver and May Darwich presented new research at the ISA's annual convention in Baltimore.

IDCAR Network members participated in the 2017 ISA Convetion, held from February 22-25 in Baltimore, Maryland. The theme of the conference was"Understanding Change in World Politics."

On Friday, February 24, Christian von Soest (GIGA) presented a paper titled "The determinants of alignment: Verbal and material collaboration between authoritarian regimes."

Thomas Richter and Georg Strüver (GIGA) presented their co-authored paper "The Rise of Authoritarian Powers and the Increase of NGO Restrictions: Two Sides of the Same Coin?" on Saturday, February 25.

May Darwich (Durham University) presenedt her new paper "Statehood, Recognition, and Conflict in International Relation: Explaining the Saudi Intervention in Yemen" on Saturday, February 25.

Posted on 24.02.2017

October 2016

Network Conferences

On 28-30 September 2016, the third IDCAR network conference, "International Resistance to Democratization: Is it Really All About Authoritarian Co-operation?" was held at Nuffield College in Oxford.

In late September, the IDCAR network conference was held at the University of Oxford, Nuffield College. The conference was the third milestone event in the network, bringing together 12 network members and external participants mainly from Nuffield. The conference was entitled ‘International Resistance to Democratization: Is it Really All About Authoritarian Co-operation?’.

After a short welcome by the local conference host Laurence Whitehead, who had organized the workshop together with Bert Hoffmann, the conference started with papers on theoretical and conceptual issues, which almost always included empirical evidence from at least one world region. All GIGA regions plus Russia and Central Asia were covered by the papers. The participants presented their papers and contributed to constructive debates on authoritarian cooperation. What was noticeable about the conference was the prominence of identity-centered or ideational approaches to explaining the behavior of authoritarian regimes. The conference concluded with a rapporteur's report by John Keane who brought the question of democracy as the alternative back into the debate.

Posted on 04.10.2016

The section on "International Dimensions of Authoritarian Rule", organized by Oisín Tansey and Thomas Richter, attracted many participants and triggered lively debates.

The IDCAR section at the ECPR General Conference from 7-10 September brought together many long-standing network members as well as a number of younger scholars from Europe interested in the international dimensions of authoritarian rule. With a total of six panels, it was a large section that took place on 9 and 10 September. The following panels and IDCAR chairs were present:

Regime Learning Under Authoritarianism - André Bank, GIGA Hamburg

A Global Marketplace of Norms - Authoritarian Regimes as Norm Entrepreneurs - Christoph Stefes, WZB; Betcy Jose, University of Colorado, Denver

Conflict and Authoritarianism - André Bank, GIGA Hamburg

Diffusion Dynamics Between Authoritarian Regimes - Oisin Tansey, King's College London

External Actors and Authoritarianism - Thomas Richter, GIGA Hamburg

Regional Organisations as Transmission Belts of Authoritarian Practices, Ideas and Norms - Thomas Demmelhuber, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Posted on 04.10.2016

September 2016

IDCAR network partners Betcy Jose and Christoph Stefes from the University of Denver will present their research on Norm contestation in Russia on September 27.

On Tuesday, September 27 at 1:30pm, IDCAR network partners Betcy Jose and Christoph Stefes from the University of Denver will present their current research project on Russia. Their project contributes to an exciting new area in authoritarian regime research: authoritarian regimes as promoters of global norms. More specifically, it examines whether Russia may be advancing its own version of the humanitarian intervention norm. They explore this question by analyzing Russian justifications for its intervention in Crimea, employing QDA to investigate this question with the use of Atlas.ti software. This research approach offers great advantages for authoritarian regime scholars, but it also poses some interesting challenges. The presentation will discuss research design in detail within in the context of this project, offering participants substantive and methodological insights.

Betcy will be an IDCAR guest researcher at the GIGA for two months. We are looking forward to seeing you at the talk!

Posted on 19.09.2016

August 2016

Papers presented at the joint IDCAR-POMEPS Workshop "Transnational Diffusion, Cooperation and Learning in the Middle East and North Africa: A Post-Arab Uprisings Perspective" in June are available.

IDCAR members together with Marc Lynch and POMEPS organized a workshop at the GIGA in early June focused on Post-Arab Uprising perspectives on authoritarian diffusion and learning in the Middle East. All the papers presented at this workshop have now been published as POMEPS Studies 21: Transnational Diffusion and Cooperation in the Middle East, which is available as a PDF for free download here. Marc also wrote a short introduction for the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog featuring GIGA members and workshop participants.

Posted on 29.08.2016

The IDCAR Network will hold six panels at the ECPR General Conference from 7-10 September in a section on "International Dimensions of Authoritarian Rule", organized by Oisín Tansey and Thomas Richter.

Research on the international dimensions of authoritarian rule has risen tremendously over recent years. Initially, a small number of contributions have tried to translate some of the more abstract concepts developed in IR or Europeanization research into the realm of research on authoritarian regimes. More recent approaches, however, have changed perspectives. They focus on the external-internal nexus and its impact on regime stability and survival, as well as on policy practices more generally. In addition, policy makers and think tanks have taken notice of the growing relevancy, specificity and influence of authoritarian regimes in regional and global affairs, as well as the gaining importance of interconnections between actors and institutions of many authoritarian regimes across the globe.

The IDCAR Network panels and their chairs in Section 28 will take place on 9 and 10 September and include:

Regime Learning Under Authoritarianism - André Bank, GIGA Hamburg; Carolin Goerzig, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG): September 9, 11:00

A Global Marketplace of Norms - Authoritarian Regimes as Norm Entrepreneurs - Christoph Stefes, WZB, Berlin Social Science Center; Betcy Jose, University of Colorado, Denver: September 9, 14:00

Conflict and Authoritarianism - André Bank, GIGA Hamburg: September 9, 17:40

Diffusion Dynamics Between Authoritarian Regimes - Oisin Tansey, King's College London: September 10, 9:00

External Actors and Authoritarianism - Thomas Richter, GIGA Hamburg: September 10, 11:00

Regional Organisations as Transmission Belts of Authoritarian Practices, Ideas and Norms - Thomas Demmelhuber, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg: September 10, 16:00

Posted on 17.08.2016
Conference Panels

The panel will look at how authoritarian regimes engage with one another in the international system and explain authoritarian regime cooperation in different issue areas.

The panel, chaired by Jillian Schwedler of Hunter College, with discussants Karrie Koesel of the University of Notre Dame and Kurt Weyland of University of Texas, Austin, will feature submissions from several IDCAR network members.

The Durability of Client Regimes - Lucan A. Way and Adam Casey, University of Toronto

Explaining Authoritarian Collaboration in Different Issue Areas - Christian von Soest and Georg Struever, GIGA Hamburg

Labor Migrants as Political Leverage? Population Mobility and Coercion in the Arab World - Gerasimos Tsourapas, University of Birmingham

Autocratic Linkage, the Duration of Sanctions, and the Survival of Dictators - Alexander Schmotz, King's College London; Oisin Tansey, King's College London; Jonathan Golub, University of Reading

Curtailing Civil Society: Convergence and Learning in Russia and Egypt - Edward Stoddard, University of Portsmouth; Ilyas Saliba, WZB Social Science Center Berlin

Posted on 02.08.2016

June 2016

Marc Lynch (POMEPS) and André Bank and Thomas Richter (GIGA) jointly organized a research workshop on Transnational Diffusion, Cooperation and Learning in the Middle East and North Africa during and after the Arab uprisings.

On 8-9 June, nineteen scholars from North America and Europe met in Hamburg to discuss their research on diffusion, demonstration, learning, cooperation and direct intervention during and after the Arab uprisings. The workshop participants extensively debated conceptual issues around these terms in a very constructive atmosphere. The contributions clustered around several themes, such as authoritarian learning, diffusion of different phenomena on many different levels, and external intervention by and for the benefit of security forces. Drawing on case studies from the whole Arab world and beyond, the participants also discussed the implications of their findings for disciplinary research in general.

The workshop program is available here.

The conference memos will be published on the POMEPS website over the summer and the whole collection will be available as an issue of the open access POMEPS Studies.

Posted on 13.06.2016

May 2016

In early June, a workshop organized jointly by the GIGA and POMEPS brings together scholars from North America and Europe to discuss their research on diffusion, demonstration, learning, cooperation and direct intervention during and after the Arab uprisings.

The Arab uprisings and their aftermath were deeply shaped by transnational and international forces. Many accounts of the protest mobilization during and after the uprisings highlight transnational diffusion and demonstration effects. Explanations of regime responses similarly feature accounts of authoritarian adaptation and learning. In addition to these indirect mechanisms, there have also been significant direct interventions by states and transnational movements to either support or suppress protests. This GIGA-POMEPS workshop invites scholars to focus in a systematic way on the mechanisms of diffusion, demonstration, learning, cooperation and direct intervention during and after the Arab uprisings. What precisely has diffused during and after the uprisings: ideas, identities, modular forms of protest or control, expectations, fear? What are the carriers and mechanisms of diffusion, demonstration, or cooperation? How do we assess the relative significance of transnational diffusion and local political factors? What evidence do we have by now for the actual operation of the hypothesized mechanisms? Is there anything distinctive about either the Middle East and North Africa or about the historical moment of the uprisings?

Posted on 18.05.2016

April 2016

Georg Strüver's new paper sheds light on China's international alignment decisions by examining the nation's partnership diplomacy in the period from 1990 to 2014.

This paper examines the determinants of alignment in bilateral partnerships. While it was impossible to think about international cooperation without referring to the term "alliances" during much of the Cold War period, strategic partnerships have taken a central place in many states' diplomatic toolkits over the past two decades. This paper sheds light on such international alignment decisions by examining the case of China’s partnership diplomacy in the period from 1990 to 2014. Theoretically, the analysis draws on scholarly insights about alliance formation and international cooperation to formulate two broad assumptions about partner choice, which are based on interest‐driven and ideology‐based rationales of alignment. Binary regression estimations highlight the importance of economic interests in explaining partnership onset. In contrast to common arguments about alliance formation, partnerships seem to be less driven by shared domestic ideologies. In fact, bilateral partnerships help bridge ideological gaps, enabling the partners’ pursuit of economic gains and diplomatic preferences, at least in the case of China.

Take a closer look at China's Partnerships.

Posted on 20.04.2016

March 2016

The working paper "Institutionalising Civilian Control of the Military in New Democracies: Theory and Evidence from South Korea" has been published by the GIGA.

Dr. David Kühn from Heidelberg University stayed at the GIGA as an IDCAR guest researcher in the spring of 2015. His latest work has now been published in the GIGA Working Paper Series. The full paper can be downloaded here, the abstract of the working paper follows.

Institutionalising Civilian Control of the Military in New Democracies: Theory and Evidence from South Korea (David Kuehn)

How and under what circumstances can civilian control be established in newly democratised nations? Former GIGA visiting fellow Dr David Kuehn proposes a new theoretical argument that conceives of the process of institutionalising civilian control in new democracies as a series of power struggles between the democratically elected civilians and the military leadership. The outcome of these power struggles depends on the respective bargaining power of civilians and the military, which is in turn a function of (1) the willingness of civilians to challenge the military’s institutional prerogatives and the military’s willingness to defend them and (2) each party’s ability to bear the costs of a civil–military conflict. To illustrate and assess the argument, the author derives a number of propositions about the expected development of civil–military relations after the transition to democracy and the possible outcomes of civil-military power struggles, subsequently testing them via an in-depth case study of civil–military relations in post-transition South Korea.

Read more.

Posted on 03.03.2016

Julia Grauvogel from the Institute of African Affairs has started working in the IDCAR network as the new doctoral research fellow replacing May Darwich.

We are very pleased to welcome Julia Grauvogel as IDCAR’s new research fellow. Julia Grauvogel joined the GIGA Institute of African Affairs in 2012 as a research fellow in the project "Ineffective Sanctions?: External Sanctions and the Persistence of Autocratic Regimes" funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. She is currently finalizing her PhD dissertation with the University of Hamburg on the internal opposition effect of international sanctions. Her case studies include inter alia Zimbabwe and Burundi. The IDCAR team is looking forward to working with Julia for the remainder of the network's duration.

Posted on 03.03.2016

February 2016

On March 1st, IDCAR guest researcher Professor Thomas Demmelhuber from the University of Erlangen gave a lecture entitled “Long live the King! Legitimacy in the Gulf Monarchies”.

The IDCAR network and the Research Team "Authoritarian Politics" jointly organized Thomas Demmelhuber's lecture entitled "Long live the King! Legitimacy in the Gulf Monarchies". In his talk, Thomas Demmelhuber traced the stability of monarchies especially in the Gulf back to a higher degree of legitimacy. He identified a broad spectrum of strategies on the foreign policy and domestic level to achieve a minimum of regime legitimacy. In order to tackle this research questions, Thomas Demmelhuber found theoretical inspiration in various concepts of legitimacy based on the basic assumption, borrowing from Kielmannsegg, that irrespective of the type of rule, every political regime requires an underlying idea of legitimacy, which, in the case of autocracies, draws upon different ideological, economic, cultural and historical sources in order to achieve regime survival. The comprehensive discussion of legitimacy as a normative and analytical concept is the basis for applying the developed concept to the six Arab Gulf monarchies in an exploratory, qualitative study.

Thomas Demmelhuber stayed at the GIGA as an IDCAR guest scholar from February - March 2016.

Posted on 17.02.2016

Prof. Dr. Marianne Kneuer from the University of Hildesheim gave a talk on the relevance of ideational legitimation in neo-autocracies.

On 2 February 2016, IDCAR guest researcher Marianne Kneuer presented her current work and triggered a lively discussion in Research Programme 1. Starting with a strong plea for historically informed research and the substantial use of classical concepts in autocracy research in general and legitimation strategies in particular, she presented the cornerstones of her current work that detects a shift from global ideologies to national missions in neo-autocracies. Besides various informal meetings, the IDCAR team at the GIGA met with collaborators of the DFG-funded project on Authoritarian Gravity Centers to discuss questions of field research in authoritarian contexts as well as possibilities for measuring international diffusion processes. Prof. Kneuer stayed at the GIGA within IDCAR’s scholarly exchange program in January-February 2016.

Posted on 17.02.2016

January 2016

May Darwich has left the GIGA to join Durham University as a Lecturer in the International Relations of the Middle East.

The IDCAR team would like to bid a fond farewell to our friend and colleague May Darwich, who has accepted a position as a Lecturer in the International Relations of the Middle East in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University in England. She brings a wide breadth of expertise in IR theories and Middle Eastern Politics to this position and we’re certain she will thrive in her new role. We will miss her insight and wit at the GIGA, but are excited for her and wish her the best as she embarks upon this new chapter. May will remain an associate of the GIGA institute of Middle East Studies and the IDCAR Network and we are looking forward to meeting her again on many occasions.

Beginning in March, Julia Grauvogel will transition into the position of Research Fellow with the IDCAR Network. Julia is already a member of the GIGA Institute for African Studies, and we are looking forward to working with her.

Posted on 20.01.2016

December 2015

On 21-22 September 2015 the IDCAR network partners at the University of Amsterdam hosted a workshop on how authoritarian regimes govern their overseas citizens.

In late September, the Amsterdam network partners of the ERC-funded project on Authoritarianism in a Global Age under the lead of Marlies Glasius organized a workshop on "Authoritarian Governance of Overseas Citizens". The workshop brought together 16 scholars working on transnational and international dimensions of authoritarian regimes and was in part funded by an IDCAR seed funding grant. Over two days, the papers that were presented tackled issues of digital diasporas and overseas surveillance, labour and student migration, as well as the instrumentalization of overseas citizens for stabilizing authoritarian rule. In addition, a public event on how authoritarian states control their citizens beyond the border offered conceptual insights on authoritarian practices in general and on the case studies of China, Eritrea and Syria in particular.

Posted on 16.12.2015

October 2015

On 2-3 October 2015, the second IDCAR network conference was held at The University of Texas at Austin. This milestone event brought together 17 network members for two days.

On 2-3 October 2015, the second network conference was held at The University of Texas at Austin. The conference was the second milestone event in the network, bringing 17 of the network members together for two days. The conference was entitled ‘Regional Clusters of Authoritarian Diffusion and Cooperation: Interest vs. Ideology’. The participants presented their papers and contributed to constructive debates on the role of ideology and interests in authoritarian diffusion and cooperation.

After a short welcome by the local conference host Kurt Weyland and the Network speaker André Bank, the conference started with an introductory paper presented by Kurt Weyland tackling theoretical and conceptual issues, which presented the overarching theme of the conference. In the light of this conceptual scope, the conference participants presented papers with theoretical and empirical foci on the topic. The following two sessions focused the role of regional powers in the authoritarian diffusion and cooperation in Latin America, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The first day of the conference was concluded with a keynote speech by Valerie Bunce (Cornell University) on ‘Autocrats, Democrats, and International Diffusion’.

On the second day, two sessions focused on the receiving side of autocratic diffusion. The papers provided empirical insights from Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe on the interplay between internal and external dynamics in authoritarian diffusion. The third session examined the global-regional nexus in autocratic diffusion. The conference was concluded with a comparative overview presented by André Bank. The participants then discussed future activities of the network.

Posted on 28.10.2015

From 24-26 September 2015, the 22nd International Conference of the German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO) was held at Ruhr University in Bochum.

From 24-26 September 2015, the 22nd International Conference of the German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO) was held at Ruhr University in Bochum. IDCAR team members, André Bank and Maria Josua, organized two panels on IDCAR-related topics with a special focus on the Middle East. Researchers from the IDCAR network but also from other universities have contributed to the panels. Presentations in the panel “International Diffusion and Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes in the Middle East” examined regional organizations, regional coalitions around autocratic policies, and autocratic coalitions in military interventions. Presentations in the panel “Legitimation, Repression and Protests: Evidence from the Arab world” offered new conceptual approaches as well as case studies from Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.

Presenters and paper titles from the IDCAR team included:

André Bank: Comparative Area Studies and the Study of Middle East Politics after the Arab Uprisings

May Darwich: Constructing the Threat: A Neoclassical Realist Approach to Autocratic Cooperation

Maria Josua: Failed Legitimation, Resilient Authoritarianism: Managing the Crisis of Legitimacy in the Algerian “Arab Uprising”

Posted on 28.10.2015

August 2015

At the Council for European Studies Conference, IDCAR partners organized a panel on the 1848 revolutions in comparative perspective.

Several members of the IDCAR Steering Committee presented their work in a panel entitled "Waves of Contentious Politics and their Consequences: 1848 in Comparative Perspective" at the Council for European Studies (CES) Conference which took place in Paris in early July. The presentations triggered lively and substantial discussions among a number of eminent scholars. The panel chair was Dorothee Bohle (Central European University) and Mark Beissinger (Princeton) served as the discussant.

The presenters and paper titles included:

Jason Brownlee: Domestic and Foreign Sources of Arab Absolutism: Evidence from Tunisia and Egypt, 1857-1882.

Laurence Whitehead: Not Waving, Not Drowning: Just Struggling to Learn Self-Government.

Kurt Weyland: Waves of Authoritarian Backlash Since the Revolutions of 1848.

Valerie Bunce and Aida Hozic: Hybrid Regimes and Hybrid Interventions: Putin and Milosevic.

Posted on 06.08.2015

July 2015

Christian von Soest and Laurence Whitehead are guest editors of a Forum Section to be published in the November issue of the European Journal of Political Research, featuring five contributions on IDCAR-related topics.

Christian von Soest: Democracy prevention: The international collaboration of authoritarian regimes This article provides a conceptual framework for various aspects of international authoritarian collaboration to prevent democracy, particularly the relationship between authoritarian regime types and their international democracy prevention policies. It differentiates between authoritarian diffusion, learning, collaboration and support, as well as between deliberate efforts to avert democracy and efforts not explicitly geared towards strengthening autocracy. The article further distinguishes between crisis events and normal conditions where authoritarian rulers’ hold on power is not in danger. It is argued that authoritarian powers’ motivations to provide support to fellow autocrats are self-serving rather than driven by an ideological commitment to creating an ‘authoritarian international’.

Julia Bader: Propping up dictators? Economic cooperation from China and its impact on authoritarian persistence in party and non-party regimes
This article investigates how China’s economic cooperation affects authoritarian persistence elsewhere. For the period 1998–2008, the article assesses quantitatively whether the effects of economic cooperation from China vary, conditioned by the regime type of the recipient. The analysis finds that China’s economic cooperation is associated with regime durability in party-based regimes. In non-party regimes, in contrast, it is associated with regime collapse.

Lucan Way: The limits of autocracy promotion: The case of Russia in the ‘near abroad’
This article assesses the efficacy of autocracy promotion through a close examination of Russian efforts to shape regime outcomes in the former Soviet Union. It finds that while Russian actions have periodically promoted instability and secessionist conflict, there is little evidence that such intervention has made post-Soviet countries less democratic than they would have been otherwise. First, the Russian government has been inconsistent in its support for autocracy. At the same time, the Russian government’s narrow concentration on its own economic and geopolitical interests has significantly limited the country’s influence, fostering a strong counter-reaction in countries with strong anti-Russian national identities. Finally, Russia’s impact on democracy in the region has been restricted by the fact that post-Soviet countries already have weak democratic prerequisites.This analysis suggests that, despite increasingly aggressive foreign policies by autocratic regional powers, autocracy promotion does not present a particularly serious threat to democracy in the world today.

Jakob Tolstrup (Aarhus): Black knights and elections in authoritarian regimes: Why and how Russia supports authoritarian incumbents in post-Soviet states
In the last decade, studies have documented how autocrats use elections as a way of legitimising and stabilising their regimes. Simultaneously, a literature on negative external actors (also known as ‘black knights’) has developed, emphasising how various international actors use anti-democracy promotion strategies to undergird authoritarian regimes. This article sheds light on the external dimension of authoritarian elections and what is termed ‘black knight election bolstering’. First, five mechanisms are elucidated, through which external assistance increases the chances of ‘winning’ elections in authoritarian settings. Second, it is argued that external actors are most likely to offer election bolstering when they face a particularly acquiescent partner or when electoral defeat is perceived to lead to radical and undesired regime change. The relevance of both factors is augmented when uncertainty of the electoral outcome is high. Finally, four cases of Russian intervention during elections in three authoritarian neighbour countries (Ukraine in 2004, Belarus in 2006, and Moldova in 2005 and 2009) are analysed.The case studies corroborate the theoretical arguments: not only does Russia engage in all five types of black knight election bolstering, but it does so only when one or more of the three explanatory factors are present.

Daniel Odinius (Bamberg) and Philipp Kuntz (Bochum): The limits of authoritarian solidarity: The Gulf monarchies and preserving authoritarian rule during the Arab Spring
During the Arab Spring the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) supported fellow authoritarian regimes in some cases while backing opposition movements in others. Existing theoretical approaches fail to explain this variation. Advancing the study on authoritarian cooperation, this article develops a theoretical approach that sets out to explain how authoritarian regimes reach their decisions. Drawing on poliheuristic foreign policy analysis, it argues that perceptions of similarity serve as a filter for estimating threats to regime survival at home. If regimes perceive the situation in other countries as similar to their own, supporting other authoritarian regimes becomes the only acceptable strategy. In contrast, if perceptions of similarity are low, regimes also consider other options and evaluate their implications beyond the domestic political arena. Applying this framework to the example of the GCC states during the Arab Spring, the analysis reveals covariation between perceptions of similarity and threat among GCC regimes, on the one hand, and their strategies, on the other.

Posted on 06.07.2015

June 2015

On Tuesday June 16 IDCAR-Member, Dr. David Kuehn gave a lecture entitled "Are there really two cultures? A pilot study on the application of qualitative and quantitative methods" at the GIGA.

Kuehn referenced a recent publication by Gary Goertz and James Mahoney, which argued that empirical Political Science research can be differentiated into two methodological cultures: A quantitative and a qualitative culture that fundamentally differ with regard to how they are implemented in practice.

In the paper that Kuehn presented in his lecture, Kuehn and Ingo Rohlfing, his colleague from the BIGSSS in Bremen, have examined the application of qualitative and quantitative methods in a multiply statified sample of over 30 journal articles. The first empirical results, based on a sample of randomly selected articles published in Comparative Political Studies, the European Journal of Political Research and World Politics between 2008 and 2012, finds very little support for the two-cultures thesis.

Posted on 29.06.2015

Professor Laurence Whitehead from Oxford University discussed Anti-Democracy Promotion

On June 23rd the IDCAR-Network together with GIGA's Research Program 1 "Legitimacy and Efficiency of Political Systems" and the "Contested World Orders" project have jointly organized a presentation by Laurence Whitehead at the GIGA.

Mr. Whitehead, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and IDCAR-Member, gave a lecture on "Anti-Democracy Promotion and the Legacies of the 'Arab Spring".

Posted on 26.06.2015

The IDCAR Network and the GIGA's Research Program 1 jointly hosted a lecture by Dr. David Kühn on our Heidelberg University network partners' newly approved research project.

The IDCAR Network and the GIGA's Research Program 1 jointly organized a lecture by Dr. David Kühn from Heidelberg University on "The dictator's endgame. Theory and empirical analysis of military behavior in authoritarian regime crises" on Tuesday, 2 June.

David is the first guest reseearcher of the IDCAR Network at the GIGA, staying in Hamburg until late June. His research foci are civil-military relations, democracy/democratization as well as questions of social scientific methodology.

The presentation introduced a new research project that aims to analyze the role of the military during peaceful mass uprisings in non-democratic regimes. The project intends to answer two questions: (1) When does the military defend the dictator against the mobilizing masses and when does it defect from the regime coalition? (2) How can different forms of defection be explained, i.e., when and why do military leaders side with the opposition, and when do they stage a coup d’état, respectively? The presentation outlined the concept of “dictator’s endgame”; presented a game-theoretic model that explains the outcome of authoritarian regime crises as the result of strategic bargaining between the dictator, the military leadership and the opposition over the distribution of material and political privileges; and discussed the methodological approach that will be used to test the model’s explanatory power.

Posted on 02.06.2015

May 2015

We congratulate two of our network partner institutions on the approval of new projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG): Marianne Kneuer and Thomas Demmelhuber from the University of Hildesheim with their project “Gravity Centers of Authoritarian Rule: a Comparative Perspective” and Aurel Croissant and David Kuehn from Heidelberg University on “Dictator's Endgame. Theory and empirical analysis of military behavior in authoritarian regime crises, 1946-2014”

We congratulate our network partners from the University of Hildesheim, Professor Marianne Kneuer and Professor Thomas Demmelhuber, on the approval of their research project “Gravity Centers of Authoritarian Rule: a Comparative Perspective”. The project is funded by the German Research Fundation (DFG) and will run for three years.

The project argues that the promotion of autocracy (intentional, actor-driven) as well as the diffusion (unintentional, neutral transmission) can be attributed to authoritarian centers of gravity (AGC) defined as regimes that constitute a force of attraction and contagion for countries in geopolitical proximity. The research questions are: What elements are imposed, diffused and transferred, in which way, in which intensity and effectiveness? What mechanisms between the AGC and the neighboring countries are induced?

The project follows three objectives: (1) Addressing the lack of a conceptual basis concerning the international dimension of authoritarian rule and offering a better understanding of the dissemination of autocratic elements through the concept of AGCs. (2) Identifying the sources, elements, and addressees of autocracy promotion and diffusion and tracing their respective pathways on the basis of a developed analytical, heuristic model. (3) Applying this model in an empirical analysis.

The research design is based on a Most Different Cases Design encompassing three AGCs which represent different regions, different autocratic subtypes and which have in common as the dependent variable the regional framing of autocratic dissemination: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Kazakhstan. The cross-area comparison addresses the pathways of influence and diffusion towards the neighboring countries. The analysis focuses on the period of time from 2001 until 2014 and will be conducted in a qualitative way.

We also congratulate our network partners from Heidelberg University, Professor Aurel Croissant and Dr. David Kuehn, on the approval of their research project “Dictator's Endgame. Theory and empirical analysis of military behavior in authoritarian regime crises, 1946-2014”. This project is also funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a duration of three years.

The project aims to analyze the role of the military during episodes of peaceful mass mobilization in non-democratic regimes. It aims to answer two questions: (1) When does the military defend the dictator against the mobilizing masses and when does it defect from the regime coalition? (2) How can different forms of defection be explained, i.e., when and why do military leaders side with the opposition, and when do they stage a coup d’état, respectively? In order to answer these questions, the project advances the concept of “dictator’s endgame”, and develops a game-theoretic model that explains the outcome of authoritarian regime crises as the result of strategic bargaining between the dictator, the military leadership and the opposition over the distribution of material and political privileges. The model’s explanatory power is tested through a mixed methods approach that systematically combines statistical analyses and process tracing case studies. At the core of the empirical analysis rests an original quantitative dataset on all instances of mass mobilizations in non-democratic regimes worldwide between 1946 and 2014. As of now, there is no comparable study that combines deductive theoretical modeling and a multi-method empirical analysis of all instances of mass mobilization in autocratic regimes. The project, therefore, promises to deliver innovative theoretical and empirical contributions to four areas of political research: the study of non-democratic regimes, democratization research, research on civil-military relations, and the study of contentious politics.

Posted on 13.05.2015

March 2015

Researchers from the GIGA, from IDCAR network partner institutions and from further universities contributed to a panel on "Democracy Prevention by International Means: Diffusion and Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes“, organized by team members Thomas Richter and Christian von Soest.

From 25-27 February, the annual Conference of the German Political Science Associaton’s (DVPW) Comparative Politics section was held at the GIGA in Hamburg, organized by IDCAR team members Thomas Richter and Christian von Soest. They also organized a double panel on „Democracy Prevention by International Means: Diffusion and Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes“ to which researchers from the GIGA, from IDCAR network partner institutions and from further universities contributed.

The following presentations were held:

Christian von Soest (GIGA Hamburg): The International Dimension of Authoritarian Rule

Edward Stoddard (Freie Universität Berlin & University of Porthmouth): The Authoritarian Diffusion Dilemma: Conceptualising Diffusion Pressures and Counter-Diffusion Responses

Maria Josua (GIGA Hamburg): Learning from Others‘ Mistakes: Conceptualizing Authoritarian Learning during Waves of Protest

Oisín Tansey, Kevin Köhler & Alexander Schmotz (King's College, London): Autocratic Linkage and Regime Survival

Ilyas Saliba (WZB Berlin & Humboldt Universität zu Berlin): The Influence of Authoritarian Learning on Regime Survival in times of Contentious Politics. Morocco during the Arab Uprisings in 2011

Maria Josepha Debre (Free University Berlin): Stronger together – How Arab Monarchs Use Regional Cooperation to Stay in Power

Gerasimos Tsourapas (SOAS London): Trading People, Consolidating Power Egyptian Authoritarianism & Migration Governance in the Middle East

Nelli Babayan (Freie Universität Berlin): The Return of the Empire? Russia’s Prevention of Transatlantic Democracy Promotion in Its Near Abroad

Posted on 09.03.2015

IDCAR represented by André Bank, May Darwich, Georg Stüver, and Christian von Soest

From 18th through 22nd of February 2015, the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association was held in New Orleans, LA. From the GIGA, André Bank, May Darwich, Nele Noesselt, Christian von Soest, and Georg Strüver participated in the conference and presented their IDCAR-related research in various panels. Their presentations tackled various theoretical issues pertaining to the international dimension of authoritarian rule. Some papers combined theoretical and empirical insights from various world regions, especially East Asia and the Middle East.

Posted on 03.03.2015

January 2015


The Conference brought together all network partners for three days at the GIGA Institute

From 17 to 19 December 2014 the first IDCAR Network Conference took place at the GIGA‘s premises in Hamburg. It was the first major meeting bringing together the scholars participating in the network since the project has started in July 2014. The conference kicked off with a public podium discussion under the title “With a Little Help from my Friends” - The International Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes in Comparative Perspective. All participants in the podium discussion were IDCAR network members. Kurt Weyland served as the moderator, while the panelists Valerie Bunce, Thomas Richter and Aurel Croissant discussed current processes of diffusion and cooperation of authoritarian regimes in the world regions of their expertise. Two challengers from the audience, Laurence Whitehead and Wolfgang Merkel, presented their comments on the panelists’ statements before a lively plenary discussion followed, with various of the statements being also covered on the network’s new Twitter account.

The conference was an inspiring and successful start of the IDCAR network and set the course for further research projects, exchange and cooperation among the network members. Twenty-nine scholars participated in the conference and presented their current IDCAR-related research in a productive atmosphere, triggering an exchange of diverse theoretical and methodological approaches and ideas of diffusion and cooperation processes of authoritarian rule. After a short welcome by the GIGA’s Vice President Detlef Nolte and the speaker of the IDCAR network André Bank, the network’s coordinator Maria Josua presented the state of current network activities. The first day of the conference was devoted to the discussion of conceptual issues. Different angles on this matter were presented in the various sessions, including the subject areas of authoritarian diffusion, democracy prevention, authoritarian learning, and autocratic linkages. On the second day, papers with a more empirical focus were presented, the bulk of contributions dealt with case studies from the world regions East Asia, the Middle East, and the post-Soviet Space. Finally, the participants discussed the network’s upcoming activities and future strategy, including the question of existing or desirable data sets in the field, to which IDCAR seeks to contribute.

Posted on 06.01.2015

December 2014

Public Relations

You can now follow IDCAR's activities and news on Twitter

The IDCAR network reaches out to the public and the academic online community through setting up a Twitter account. Stay updated to the network's activities and follow us on idcar_network. Various staff members at the GIGA will tweet about interesting news, events and publications.

Posted on 03.12.2014

November 2014

Podium Discussion

"With a little help from my friends" − The International Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes in Comparative Perspective

When in December the IDCAR network partners come together for their First Network Conference, some of the network partners will participate in a public podium discussion. Under the title "With a little help from my friends" − The International Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes in Comparative Perspective, they will discuss the IDCAR relevant topics from the perspective of different world regions.

Valerie Bunce (Cornell University)
Thomas Richter (GIGA)
Aurel Croissant (University of Heidelberg)

Laurence Whitehead (University of Oxford)
Wolfgang Merkel (WZB Berlin Social Science Center)

Moderator: Kurt Weyland (University of Texas at Austin)

Posted on 11.11.2014