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The Conflict Behavior of Authoritarian Regimes1

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In order to understand what makes democracies unique, we need to develop a deeper understanding of the conflict behavior of authoritarian regimes. If any of the competing explanations of the democratic peace can also account for similar behavior among specific types of authoritarian regimes, we can have more confidence in the power of that approach for understanding the relationship between political regimes and international peace. Previous work using a data set compiled by Barbara Geddes indicates that single-party authoritarian regimes tend to be somewhat more peaceful than other types of authoritarian regimes, while personalist dictatorships tend to be more conflict prone. This article extends this research by examining the initiation of militarized disputes among all combinations of authoritarian regimes coded by Geddes, including military, personalist, single-party, and hybrid regimes that involve combinations of these three pure types. We find that this more comprehensive examination of the conflict behavior of authoritarian regimes suggests that there is indeed something distinctive about the behavior of single-party and personalist regimes. Single-party regimes are significantly less likely to initiate disputes against many of the specific types of authoritarian regimes coded by Geddes. They are also less likely to be targeted by other types of authoritarian regimes. In contrast, personalist regimes are both more likely to initiate and be the target of disputes. This article suggests that the Bueno de Mesquita et al. ‘selectorate’ theory provides a useful approach for understanding this pattern of results.International Politics (2004) 41, 565–581. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800093
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: aDepartment of Political Science, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA. , [email protected], Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 December 2004

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