No.50 Explaining the Resilience of Single-Party Regimes: Centralized Politics, Promotability, and Corruption
The spread of democracy during the Third Wave was accompanied by the expansion of one- party autocracies. Compared to other non-democratic systems, one-party regimes are more durable, suffer fewer coups, and enjoy higher economic growth. Why are single-party regimes so resilient? In this paper, I argue that in certain single-party regimes, centralized politics and meritocratic promotion combine to create an incentive system conducive to development and economic growth, which in turn consolidate the regime’s capacity and legitimacy. Using the case of local politicians in Vietnam, I employ a Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) to provide evidence that promotion pressures in these regimes incentivize the political elites to rein in rent-seeking, corruption, and the extortion of businesses. These conditions subsequently result in better economic performance in the localities.