Autocrats face internal and external threats to their rule. My current work is related to the understanding domestic forms of external threats, meaning partisan and non-partisan oppositions. How do oppositions form? Which conditions favour the emergence of new oppositions in non-democratic regimes? By using a mixed-methods approach and evidence from Latin America my postdoctoral project will address these questions.
Why do some opposition parties coordinate with one another, while others do not? In my doctoral dissertation (DPIR, University of Oxford, 2020), I studied uneven patterns of opposition coordination in autocracies, using empirical evidence from Latin America, including over 200 original interviews conducted with leading politicians, journalists, activists and experts. In contrast to existing accounts that mostly focus on the behaviour and choices of the autocrat, my research pays attention to the individual and collective dilemmas, decision-making processes and agency of opposition parties. I have found that coordination is only possible under two conditions: When repression is both moderate (i.e., not too light as to be merely inconvenient but not too extreme as to be effectively crushing or paralyzing) and indiscriminate. When repression is either low or high levels and/or targeted towards specific parties, coordination is less likely to occur.
My doctoral dissertation received the 2021 PSA Lord Bryce Prize for Comparative Politics.
I am currently also working on smaller individual and collaborative research projects on the intersection of authoritarianism, civil resistance and opposition coordination in Latin America. Moreover, I am examining the impact of sanctions on civil society groups and the likelihood of regime change in Venezuela.