Comparative Politics

Alternative Legacies of Authoritarianism: Pro-dictator Bias in Ideology



How does an authoritarian past shape voters’ left-right orientation? Recent studies investigate “anti-dictator bias” in political ideology, where citizens in a former right-wing (left-wing) dictatorship may display a leftist (rightist) bias in their ideological self-identification. In this paper, I provide evidence for a “pro-dictator bias” where citizens hold ideological positions corresponding to those of the dictator depending on their experiences during and after transition. In countries with negotiated transitions and stronger former ruling parties, these successors could continue mobilizing the popular base of the former dictatorship with inherited advantages from the past and by invoking nostalgia through consistent reference to previous authoritarian achievements. I test this hypothesis with variables measuring successor party strength and the type of regime transition by combining individual-level survey data and country-level data. The findings emphasize the role of post-transition features in shaping alternative legacies on voter attitudes in former authoritarian societies.


Thumbnail image of Kim-Leffingwell - Ideological Legacies (APSA).pdf


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