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Collective Memories, Propaganda and Authoritarian Political Support

Listed author(s):
  • Alessandro Belmonte

    ()

    (IMT Alti Studi Lucca)

  • Michael Rochlitz

    ()

    (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

To what extent does the degree of authoritarian political support depend on collective memories of a past experience with democracy? And how costly is it for a dictator to manipulate such memories with the help of propaganda? In this paper, we develop a political economy model with endogenous reference points, where a dictator strategically recalls traumatic collective memories of past political instability with the help of propaganda, to convince the population that an autocratic status quo is superior to a potential democratic alternative. In our model, both the optimal level of propaganda and collective memories are jointly determined. We show how the marginal bene t of propaganda is positively correlated both with the amount of rent distribution within the elite, and the intensity of a past traumatic experience with democracy. We illustrate our theoretical findings with case-studies of two authoritarian regimes that were preceded by periods of political instability|the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin, and Chile under Augusto Pinochet. We then also provide cross-country empirical evidence in support of our argument.

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File URL: https://wp.hse.ru/data/2017/02/09/1167262057/43PS2017.pdf
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Paper provided by National Research University Higher School of Economics in its series HSE Working papers with number WP BRP 43/PS/2017.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 2017
Publication status: Published in WP BRP Series: Political Science / PS, February 2017, pages 1-46
Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:43/ps/2017
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