This PhD dissertation investigates the effects of autocratic survival strategies; specifically, the different potential trade-offs that are associated with these strategies. The dissertation argues that at least three types of trade-offs can be associated with autocratic survival strategies. Firstly, a strategy can have different effects on a dictator’s vulnerability to threats from actors inside the regime and threats from actors outside the regime, respectively. Accordingly, the same strategy may decrease a dictator’s vulnerability to insider threats while increasing his vulnerability to outsider threats. Secondly, a strategy may have different effects on a dictator’s vulnerability in the short and in the long term. Hence, while a strategy may help the dictator secure his hold on power in the long run, the same strategy may jeopardize his hold on power in the short run. Thirdly, a strategy may have different effects on a dictator’s ability to stay in office and the level of discretionary power that he enjoys while in office. As a result, while a strategy may be effective at helping the dictator survive in office, it may do so at the cost of constraining his discretionary power and access to material benefits during his tenure. These arguments are supported by the four articles of the dissertation, which investigate the effects of different types of survival strategies through a series of time-series cross-sectional analyses of global samples of autocracies. The findings contribute to increasing and nuancing our understanding of the effects of autocratic survival strategies.
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