TEPSA has coordinated a briefing requested by DROI Subcommittee of the European Parliament. The briefing was published as part of the workshop “Strengthening the right to participate: legitimacy and resilience of electoral processes in illiberal political systems and authoritarian regimes”. It is authored by Thomas Demmelhuber, who is a Professor at Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. The briefing is entitled “How do authoritarian governments make use of elections and electoral processes to increase their legitimacy?”
Autocratic legitimation is not an oxymoron. Elections and electoral processes play a relevant role for various autocratic regimes in addressing both domestic and international audiences. Compared with democracies where elections determine access to power, elections in autocracies are used to safeguard and bolster the power status quo, albeit they may also lead to stress factors for the respective regimes. This Briefing discusses how autocratic regimes use elections and electoral processes for the sake of regime legitimacy and how they try to control unintended consequences. Such a deconstruction of election as a form of input-legitimation helps not only to explain how autocrats nurture their grip on power via elections but also demonstrates to what extent this affects international standards, challenges the liberal international order and leads to the diffusion of autocratic practices, norms and ideas.
Download the full briefing, as well as the workshop proceedings here