Schuler, Paul and Edmund Malesky. "Autocratic Incumbency Advantage: A Conjoint Survey Analysis of Public Support for Single-Party Regimes."

What explains electoral support for single-party regimes without organized oppositions? We provide an alternative theory that explains why even mediocre parties may win support, arguing that single-party regimes benefit from incumbency advantage based on three mechanisms: certainty about party policy positions, party access to decision-making power, and psychological system justification. We test our theory using a conjoint survey experiment in Vietnam. Results show that after accounting for dominant alternatives in the literature, voters still favored communist party candidates over non-party alternatives by 10 percentage points. 


Schuler, Paul and Chad Westerland. "Reconsidering the Rubber Stamp Thesis: A Consolidation Theory of Expropriation and Legislatures in Party-Based Regimes." (find paper here)

Growing conventional wisdom suggests authoritarian legislatures protect property rights. However, country scholars and media outlets remain skeptical. We develop a novel theory aligning with the skeptics. We argue that expropriations and legislative closures are jointly caused by the process of authoritarian regime consolidation. Because legislative openings could signal either a newly imposed constraint or a completed consolidation, we test the argument using recently developed Bayesian qualitative techniques. Results show no support for binding theories, but evidence for our consolidation theory. Additionally, in contrast to existing work, we find that legislatures in non-party regimes are more adversarial vis-à-vis the autocrat than in party-based regimes. 

Lee, Don and Paul Schuler. "'China Model' of Meritocratic Promotions: Do Autocracies Promote More Competent Ministers than Democracies?" 

Proponents of the “China Model” suggest that autocracies, particularly in East Asia, promote more competent ministers than democracies. However, a competing literature argues that autocracies are less likely to promote competent ministers because autocrats fear challenges from competent subordinates. We argue that autocracies do not fear technically competent ministers; they fear politically competent ministers. As such, autocracies may promote technically competent ministers, but only if their political skills are sufficiently limited or hidden.  We provide the first test of this theory on ministerial promotions using a unique dataset of political competence and promotions in nine East Asian countries. Our findings show that autocracies promote technically competent ministers as long as they are politically unthreatening. In democracies, parliamentary and presidential democracies promote those with political competence.