Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 12
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Yamada, Norihiko 2018. Legitimation of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party: Socialism, Chintanakan Mai (New Thinking) and Reform. Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 48, Issue. 5, p. 717.


    Cook, Linda J. and Dimitrov, Martin K. 2017. The Social Contract Revisited: Evidence from Communist and State Capitalist Economies. Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 69, Issue. 1, p. 8.

    Chen, Jidong and Xu, Yiqing 2017. Information Manipulation and Reform in Authoritarian Regimes. Political Science Research and Methods, Vol. 5, Issue. 01, p. 163.

    Dukalskis, Alexander and Gerschewski, Johannes 2017. What autocracies say (and what citizens hear): proposing four mechanisms of autocratic legitimation. Contemporary Politics, Vol. 23, Issue. 3, p. 251.

    Zeng, Qingjie 2017. CADRE ROTATION AND CAMPAIGN MOBILIZATION IN CHINA'S ANTICORRUPTION ENFORCEMENT. Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 17, Issue. 02, p. 167.

    Chen, Dan 2016. REVIEW ESSAY: THE SAFETY VALVE ANALOGY IN CHINESE POLITICS. Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 16, Issue. 02, p. 281.

    Wong, Stan Hok-wui and Peng, Minggang 2015. Petition and Repression in China's Authoritarian Regime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment. Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 15, Issue. 01, p. 27.

    Dimitrov, Martin K. 2015. Internal Government Assessments of the Quality of Governance in China. Studies in Comparative International Development, Vol. 50, Issue. 1, p. 50.

    Hensengerth, Oliver 2015. Multi-Level Governance: The Missing Linkages. Vol. 4, Issue. , p. 295.

    Ong, Elvin 2015. Complementary Institutions in Authoritarian Regimes: The Everyday Politics of Constituency Service in Singapore. Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 15, Issue. 03, p. 361.

    Malesky, Edmund and London, Jonathan 2014. The Political Economy of Development in China and Vietnam. Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 17, Issue. 1, p. 395.

  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: August 2013

10 - Vertical Accountability in Communist Regimes


The chapters in this volume aim to identify the institutional foundations of the resilience of communist regimes. This task is complicated by the fact that some communist regimes collapsed in 1989–1991, whereas others survived this watershed period. The contributors to the volume approach the question of collapse in different ways. Some emphasize differences by presenting theoretical arguments about the presence of certain variables in the countries that collapsed and their absence in countries that survived. For example, Bernstein (Chapter 2) discusses political liberalization in the Soviet Union and its absence in China, whereas Bunce and Wolchik (Chapter 5) and Kramer (Chapter 6) highlight the susceptibility of the Eastern Bloc to contagion and the ability of the East Asian communist regimes to avoid contagion. In a similar vein, Tismaneanu (Chapter 3) discusses ideological erosion in Eastern Europe and the reinvigoration of ideology in China and North Korea. Ideological erosion in Europe also provides the background against which Charles Armstrong (Chapter 4) discusses the essential role of ideology for the maintenance of the North Korean regime. In turn, Gallagher and Hanson (Chapter 7) argue that the absence of both carrots and sticks explains Soviet collapse, whereas the survival of communist regimes after 1989 is based on varying combinations of carrots and sticks. Other chapters take a different approach by focusing only on resilient regimes. Examples are provided by Tsai (Chapter 8), who discusses the contribution of private entrepreneurs to regime resilience in China and Vietnam, and by Abrami, Malesky, and Zheng (Chapter 9), who explore variation in the institutions of vertical and horizontal accountability in China and Vietnam. These two chapters allow us to investigate in depth the causal mechanisms that link a certain variable to the outcome of regime resilience.

This chapter presents a third approach for assessing the impact of individual variables on regime resilience. It tracks how changes in the same variable (erosion in vertical accountability) had the same short-term effect (instability due to decreasing popular loyalty) in both Bulgaria and in China prior to 1989. Despite this shared instability, one regime collapsed whereas the other survived through the use of force. This chapter therefore allows us to distinguish between regime decay and regime collapse: although both Bulgaria and China experienced decay prior to 1989, only one of the two regimes collapsed. The chapter also investigates China’s ongoing efforts to strengthen accountability after 1989, thus highlighting the contribution of institutions of accountability to regime resilience.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Why Communism Did Not Collapse
  • Online ISBN: 9781139565028
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Guan, Xiao, “Mao Zedong tongzhi chuli renmin laixin pianduan” (Episodes from Comrade Mao Zedong’s Handling of People’s Letters), Renmin xinfang, no. 2 (1985), 2–3
Deutz-Schroeder, Monika and Staadt, Jochen, eds., Teurer Genosse! Briefe an Erich Honecker (Dear Comrade: Letters to Erich Honecker) (Berlin: Transit, 1994)
Cook, Linda J., The Soviet Social Contract and Why It Failed: Welfare Policy and Workers’ Politics from Brezhnev to Yeltsin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993)
Kochanowky, Jerzy, “‘. . . jesteśmy już przywyczajeni’: Prolegomena do społeczno-modernizacyinych kulis ‘problemu mięsnego’ v PRL” (“We’ve Become Accustomed”: Prolegomena to the Socio-modernization Backdrop of the “Meat Problem” in the People’s Republic of Poland), Przegląd historyczny 96:4 (2005), 587–605
Hübner, Peter and Hübner, Christa, Sozialismus als soziale Frage: Sozialpolitik in der DDR und Polen 1968–1976 (Socialism as a Social Question: Social Policy in the GDR and Poland, 1968–1976) (Köln: Böhlau, 2008), esp. 133–141
VTsIOM, Obshchestvennoe mnenie v tsifrakh, no. 8 (15) (April 1990), 15.
Whiting, Susan, “The Cadre Evaluation System at the Grass Roots: The Paradox of Party Rule,” in Naughton, Barry and Yang, Dali, eds., Holding China Together: Diversity and National Integration in the Post-Deng Era (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 101–119
Rubin, Edward, “The Myth of Accountability,” Michigan Law Review 103:8 (August 2005), 2073–2136
Philp, Mark, “Delimiting Democratic Accountability,” Political Studies 57:1 (2009), 28–53
Tolbert Roberts, Jennifer, Accountability in Athenian Government (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), esp. 14–29
Landry, Pierre F., Decentralized Authoritarianism in China: The Communist Party’s Control of Local Elites in the Post-Mao Era (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
McCubbins, Mathew D. and Schwartz, Thomas, “Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrols versus Fire Alarms,” American Journal of Political Science 28:1 (1984), 165–179
Mainwaring, Scott and Welna, Christopher, eds., Democratic Accountability in Latin America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003)
Yonhap News Agency [Seoul], North Korea Handbook [Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2003], 153)
Fitzpatrick, Sheila, Tear Off the Masks! Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).
Fainsod, Merle, Smolensk under Soviet Rule (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), 378–408
Dimitrov, Martin K., “Zhalbite na grazhdanite v komunisticheska Bulgariia” (Citizen Complaints in Communist Bulgaria), in Znepolski, Ivailo, ed., Da poznaem komunizma (Getting to Know Communism) (Sofia: Ciela, 2012), 167–225
Friedrich, Walter, Förster, Peter, and Starke, Kurt, eds., Das Zentralinstitut für Jugendforschung Leipzig, 1966–1990: Geschichte, Methoden, Erkenntnisse (Central Institute for Youth Research in Leipzig, 1966–1990: History, Methods, Findings) (Berlin: Edition Ost, 1999)
Pravda, Alex, “East-West Interdependence and the Social Compact in Eastern Europe,” in Bornstein, Morris, Gitelman, Zvi, and Zimmerman, William, eds., East-West Relations and the Future of Eastern Europe: Politics and Economics (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1981), 162–187
Zlobodnevni problemi (Problems of the Day), no. 2 (1983)
State Gazette, no. 52 (July 4, 1980).
Chukrin, Georgi, Zapiski ot totalitarnoto vreme: Kraiat (Notes from the Totalitarian Period: The End) (Sofia: Iztok-Zapad, 2007), 85.
Nikova, Gospodinka, “Zhivkovata ikonomicheska reforma, perestroikata i startut na skritata privatizatsiia v Bulgariia” (Zhivkov’s Economic Reforms, Perestroika, and the Beginning of Hidden Privatization in Bulgaria), Istoricheski Pregled, no. 5–6 (2003), 92–125
Baeva, Iskra, Iztochna Evropa prez XX vek: Idei, konflikti, mitove (Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century: Ideas, Conflicts, Myths) (Sofia: Paradigma, 2010), 462–493
Ivanov, Martin, Reformatorstvo bez reformi (Reform-Mindedness without Reforms) (Sofia: Ciela, 2008)
Ivanov, Dimitur, Politicheskoto protivopostaviane v Bulgariia 1956–1989 (Political Opposition in Bulgaria, 1956–1989) (Sofia: Ares Press, 1994)
Kuran, Timur, “Now Out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the East European Revolution of 1989,” World Politics 44:1 (1991), 7–48
Lohmann, Susanne, “The Dynamics of Informational Cascades: The Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig, East Germany, 1989–91,” World Politics 47:1 (1994), 42–101
Kramer, Mark, “The Collapse of East European Communism and the Repercussions within the Soviet Union,” Journal of Cold War Studies 5:4 (2003), 178–256
Kalyvas, Stathis, “The Decay and Breakdown of Communist One-Party Systems,” Annual Review of Political Science 2:1 (1999), 323–343
Townsend, James R., Political Participation in Communist China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 177–179
Shi, Tianjian, Political Participation in Beijing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), esp. 60–66
Chunfeng huayu ji (Annals of Spring Breezes and Rain) (Beijing: Qunzhong chubanshe, 1981)
Jiecheng, Diao, Renmin xinfang shilüe, 1949–1995 (History of People’s Letters and Visits, 1949–1995) (Beijing: Beijing jingji xueyuan chubanshe, 1996)
Thireau, Isabelle and Linshan, Hua, Les Ruses de la démocratie: Protester en Chine (The Tricks of Democracy: Protesting in China) (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2010), 192
Walder, Andrew G., Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986)
Renmin xinfang, no. 22 (1985), 2–3
Renmin xinfang, no. 1 (1988), 15–17
Walder, Andrew G., “Workers, Managers, and the State: The Reform Era and the Political Crisis of 1989,” The China Quarterly, no. 127 (1991), 467–492
Liang, Zhao, comp., The Tiananmen Papers (New York: Public Affairs, 2001)
Renmin xinfang, no. 11 (1989), 2
Renmin xinfang, no. 10 (1989), 2
Renmin xinfang, no. 11 (1989), 2–4
Renmin xinfang, no. 10 (1989), 3–8
Renmin xinfang, no. 2 (1990), 2–3
Perry, Elizabeth J., Challenging the Mandate of Heaven: Social Protest and State Power in China (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2001)
O’Brien, Kevin J. and Li, Lianjiang, Rightful Resistance in Rural China (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Cai, Yongshun, Collective Resistance in China: Why Popular Protests Succeed or Fail (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010)
Chen, Xi, Social Protest and Contentious Authoritarianism in China (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012)
Li, Lianjiang, Liu, Mingxing, and O’Brien, Kevin, “Petitioning Beijing: The High Tide of 2003–2006,” China Quarterly, no. 210 (June 2012), 313–334
Zhongguo tongji nianjian 2010 (China Statistical Yearbook 2010) (Beijing: Zhongguo tongji chubanshe, 2010), 118
Zouping nianjian 1986–1995 (Zouping Yearbook 1986–1995) (Ji’nan: Qilu shushe, 1997), 83–84
Renmin xinfang, no. 12 (1998), 11–13
Croll, Elisabeth J., “Social Welfare Reform: Trends and Tensions,China Quarterly, no. 159 (1999), 684–699
Duckett, Jane, “State, Collectivism, and Worker Privilege: A Study of Urban Health Insurance Reform,” China Quarterly, no. 177 (2004), 155–173
Kwan, Ching, Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)
Hurst, William, The Chinese Worker after Socialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
Bernstein, Thomas P. and , Xiaobo, Taxation without Representation in Contemporary Rural China (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
Yonghe, Zhang and Wei, Zhang, Lintong xinfang: Zhongguo jiceng xinfang wenti yanjiu baogao (Letters and Visits in Lintong: Research Report on Grassroots Letters and Visits in China) (Beijing: Renmin chubanshe, 2009)
Ling, Zhao, “Xinfang gaige yinfa zhengyi” [Reform of Letters and Visits System Gives Rise to Controversy], Nanfang zhoumo, November 18, 2004).
Weiye, Lin and Hanmin, Liu, Gong’an jiguan yingdui quntixing shijian shiwu yu celüe (Practical Affairs and Strategy of the Response of the Public Security Organs to Mass Incidents) (Beijing: Zhongguo renmin gong’an daxue chubanshe, 2008), 3
China Human Rights Yearbook 2007–2008 ([N.P.]: Chinese Human Rights Defenders, 2008), 4–10
Jingqiong, Wang, “Beijing to Close Down Thousands of Liaison Offices,” China Daily, January 25, 2010
Lam, Willy, “The Grim Future of the Wukan Model for Managing Dissent,” China Brief 12:1 (January 6, 2012), 3–5
Deyu, Chen, Renmin chenqing an diwei zhi yanjiu (Research on Citizen Petitions) (Taipei: Xingzhengyuan yanjiu fazhan kaohe weiyuanhui, 1983)