Non-democratic regimes as bargaining process




Aslam, Ghazia

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Many questions about the characteristics of dictatorships and the process and likelihood of their transition towards democracy remain unanswered. In this paper, we contend that in order to get a comprehensive picture of a dictatorial regime and its prospects of democratization, we need to highlight the importance of “free activity” in the strategic interaction between the dictator and the citizens–the dynamics of “bargaining, for the reaching of understandings and misunderstandings, for accommodation and co-operation and for conjectures about each other’s decision processes, value systems and information” (Schelling, 1961). We specifically analyze three strategies that participants use under different circumstances in an attempt to achieve their most favorable outcome: changing the payoffs of the opponents, “burning” money by a participant to signal his intentions about the future action and the use of brinkmanship. In doing so, we learn about the behavior of the participants that usually remains out of reach of straightforward analysis. The framework generates a variety of potential behavior within a framework of a few variables and constraints and is therefore able to generate hypotheses about relationships among various variables of interest.



Theory of dictatorship, Institutions in dictatorship, Political transitions, Democratization, Bargaining strategies, Aslam, School of Public Policy, George Mason University