How to Sell a Coup: Elections as Coup Legitimation (with Sharan Grewal) (Forthcoming, Journal of Conflict Resolution)
Unlike other political leaders, leaders coming to power through military coups face a dual legitimation challenge: they must justify not only why they should rule, but also how they came to power. Little attention has been paid to how coup leaders solve this legitimacy deficit, and even less to the audiences of this legitimation. We ask: why do some coup leaders legitimate their coups by holding elections while others do not? Counterintuitively, we argue that coup leaders who oust democratically-elected leaders are less likely to hold elections, except when tied to U.S. military aid. We test these hypotheses through a dataset of military coup regimes from 1946-2014, and trace out mechanisms through case studies of the Nigerian coup of 1983 and the Egyptian coup of 2013. This argument provides a new explanation for the emergence of authoritarian elections and a new perspective on the international dimensions of dictatorship.
Monitoring Compliance: Explaining Government Compliance with Judicial Decisions (Presented at APSA 2016)
What leads the government to comply with the judiciary? As politics around the world becomes judicialized, political scientists continue to grapple with the enduring puzzle of government compliance with judicial orders when the judiciary has no powers of enforcement. This paper argues that government compliance with the judiciary depends upon, not just the judiciary’s independence and public support for the judiciary, but also the autonomy of actors outside the political system, particularly the media and legal profession, that can hold the government accountable for how it responds to judicial decisions, and raise the costs of non-compliance. Using both existing data and new data on the legal profession, I first test this theory cross-nationally, by testing how variation in the independence of the media and the formal independence of the legal profession affect the likelihood of judicial compliance across 161 states. I then explore this theory through an in-depth study of a series of salient Supreme Court actions in Pakistan between 2008 and 2015, to understand how the media and legal profession can compel compliance. This paper highlights the interdependent relationship between the judiciary and other important political actors outside the political system, providing a more complete picture for conditions required for the consolidation of the rule of law.