Johannes Gerschewski, Anja Neundorf, Aykut Öztürk, Ksenia Northmore-Ball, Katerina Tertytchnaya | 2022

A Loyal Base: Support for Authoritarian Regimes in Times of Crisis

in: OSF Preprints

Does citizen support for the norms and principles of non-democratic regimes help stabilize authoritarian rule? While a large literature recognizes that authoritarian regimes depend on popular support to lower the costs of staying in power, existing research mainly views mass support for non-democratic regimes as instrumental, fuelled by performance. We know relatively little about the effects of normative support for authoritarian rule. Using novel experimental evidence from well powered online surveys fielded in Turkey and observational data, we find high levels of normative support for the political system. Normative support is significantly more stable to an economic crisis treatment than instrumental support, especially among government voters. We also show that support for authoritarian rule mitigates the electoral consequences of poor economic performance. These findings, which revisit the importance of normative support for regime instability and resilience, have implications for research on mass opinion and defection cascades in electoral autocracies.

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