Authoritarianism and information courts as information providers in non-democracies
Sievert, Jacqueline M.
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What explains autocrats' willingness to allow independent judicial decision-making under certain conditions, but restrict independence in others? This dissertation develops two game theoretic models that show authoritarian leaders can allow judicial independence to learn about the resolve of an aggrieved group within society. This in turn allows the regime to determine what level of concessions will satisfy the group's demands and thereby prevent mobilization against the state. As the difference between the level of concessions required to satisfy groups of different levels of resolve grows, authoritarian regimes become more likely to allow independent judicial decision making. Additionally, the more important the issue is to the regime, the less likely they are to allow independent decision making. This project then uses both observational and experimental survey data to empirically model two implications generated from the theoretical models; that judicial independence decreases the likelihood of civil conflict and that the degree of judicial independence a court enjoys affects the rate at which individuals will be willing to challenge the regime. These findings have important implications for understanding variation in judicial independence and the likelihood of civil unrest as well as ramifications for studying institutions in authoritarian regimes more generally.