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Toward a more general approach to political stability in comparative political systems

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  • Apolte, Thomas

Abstract

This paper provides a general framework for analyzing political (in)stability in comparative political systems. It distinguishes different subgroups of a society, some of which have a potential for pursuing a redistribution of wealth in its broadest sense via constitutional or non-constitutional government overturns. Political instability implies a cycle of overturns and redistributions with no stable equilibrium. It will be shown that individual incentives for participating in overturn attempts hinge not upon specific distributions of wealth but are rather dependent on the respective structure and credibility of promises and threats within and across the different subgroups of the society. What is more, without credible commitments of the incumbent governments to a carrot-and-stick policy there will be the danger of endless over-turn and redistribution cycles, leading to failed states. For much the same reason, democratic constitutions contain effective measures against redistribution cycles. Stability within non-democracies, by contrast, can be explained by the fact that commitments among potential re-bels cannot be backed by formal institutions, whereas incumbent governments can use their legal surrounding for developing institutions that, in turn, help them to embed potentially threatening societal groups into a system of carrot and stick. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Münster, Center for Interdisciplinary Economics (CIW) in its series CIW Discussion Papers with number 01/2012.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ciwdps:012012

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Keywords: political economy; revolutions; credible commitments;

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
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  3. Roemer, John E, 1985. "Rationalizing Revolutionary Ideology," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 85-108, January.
  4. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
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  6. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Acemoglu, Daron, 2003. "Why not a political Coase theorem? Social conflict, commitment, and politics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 620-652, December.
  8. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  9. Apolte, Thomas, 2010. "Why is there no revolution in North-Korea? The political economy of revolution revisited," CAWM Discussion Papers 29, Center of Applied Economic Research Münster (CAWM), University of Münster.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2002. "The Political Economy of the Kuznets Curve," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(2), pages 183-203, June.
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