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

  • Apolte, Thomas

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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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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  1. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Roemer, John E, 1985. "Rationalizing Revolutionary Ideology," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 85-108, January.
  4. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Why Not a Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment and Politics," NBER Working Papers 9377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did The West Extend The Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, And Growth In Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199, November.
  6. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521764605 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
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