Skip to main content
×
Home

Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective Action Problems, and Post-Communist Colored Revolutions

  • Joshua A. Tucker (a1)
Abstract

In countries where citizens have strong grievances against the regime, attempts to address these grievances in the course of daily life are likely to entail high costs coupled with very low chances of success in any meaningful sense; consequently, most citizens will choose not to challenge the regime, thus reflecting the now well-known collective action problem. When a regime commits electoral fraud, however, an individual's calculus regarding whether to participate in a protest against the regime can be changed significantly. This argument yields important implications for how we interpret the wave of “colored revolutions” that swept through Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan in the first half of this decade. Applying the collective action framework to the colored revolutions also yields a parsimonious contribution to the political science literature on social protest: electoral fraud can be a remarkably useful tool for solving the collective action problems faced by citizens in countries where governments are not, to use Barry Weingast's language, appropriately restrained by the populace. While modest, such an observation actually can speak to a wide-ranging number of questions in the literature, including why people choose to protest when they do, how protests at one place and time can affect the likelihood for future protests, and new aspects of the relationship between elections and protest.Joshua A. Tucker is Associate Professor of Politics at New York University (joshua.tucker@nyu.edu). He would like to thank participants in the First and Second Danyliw Research Seminars in Contemporary Ukrainian Studies hosted by the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa and the Kennan Institute Workshop on Ukrainian Civil Society for many helpful comments and suggestions on developing the arguments contained in this article. He would also like to thank Dominique Arel, Jessica Allina-Pisano, Mark Beissinger, Valerie Bunce, Paul D'Anieri, Jerry Hough, Jason Lyall, Grigore Pop-Eleches, Lucan Way, and William Zimmerman for their time in commenting on earlier drafts of the paper, as well as the anonymous reviewers at Perspective on Politics. Marc Berenson and Matthew Berner provided excellent research assistance.

Copyright
References
Hide All

References

Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson. 2005. Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Arel, Dominique. 2005. “The ‘Orange Revolution’: Analysis and Implications of the 2004 Presidential Election in Ukraine.” Third Annual Stasiuk-Cambridge Lecture on Contemporary Ukraine, Cambridge University, February 25, in Dominique Arel, “The Ukraine List (UKL),” No. 340 (March 9).
Badkhen, Anna. 2003. “‘Velvet Revolution’ in Georgia.” San Francisco Chronicle, November 23, A3, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Baker, Peter, and Susan Glasser. 2005. Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin's Russia and the End of Revolution. New York: Scribner.
Beissinger, Mark R. 2002. Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Beissinger, Mark R. 2007. Structure and example in modular political phenomena: The diffusion of Bulldozer/Rose/Orange/Tulip Revolutions. Perspectives on Politics 4 (2): 25976.
Bieber, Florian. 2003. The Serbian opposition and civil society: Roots of the delayed transition in Serbia. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 17 (1): 7390.
Birch, Sarah. 2002. The 2000 elections in Yugoslavia: the “Bulldozer Revolution.” Electoral Studies 21: 499511.
Bunce, Valerie. 2005. “Domestic Conditions and Democracy Promotion.” Presented at Roundtable on U.S. Democracy Promotion in Post-Communist Societies, U.S. Department of State, May 18.
Bunce, Valerie, and Sharon Wolchik. 2005. “Promoting Democracy after Communism: Electoral Revolutions in Slovakia, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.” Ithaca, NY. Manuscript.
Chivers, C. J. 2005Back Channels: A Crackdown Averted: How Top Spies in Ukraine Changed the Nation's Path.” New York Times, January 17, 1.
Chong, Dennis. 1991. Collective Action and the Civil Rights Movement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cokgezen, Murat. 2004. Corruption in Kyrgyzstan: The facts, causes, and consequences. Central Asian Survey 23 (1): 7994.
Cullison, Alan, and Guy Chazan. 2004. “Putin's Role in Ukraine Election Stirs Backlash.” Wall Street Journal, November 29. In Dominique Arel, “The Ukraine List (UKL),” No. 290 November 29, 2005.
Curtis, Jessicah. 2005. “The Day the Tulip Revolution Came.” The Independent (London), March 25, 2425, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Devdariani, Jaba. 2004. Georgia: Rise and fall of the facade democracy.” Demokratizatsiya 12 (1): 79115.
Eudes, Marielle, and Nikolai Topuria. 2003. “Georgia Plans Presidential Elections for January 4 after ‘Rose Revolution,’Agence France Presse, November 25, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Fairbanks, Charles H. 2004. “Georgia's Rose Revolution.” Journal of Democracy 15 (2): 11024.
Fournier, Anna. Forthcoming. “Ukraine's Orange Revolution: Beyond Soviet Citizenship?” In The Contest for Social Mobilization in Ukraine, ed. P. D'Anieri. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Gruda, Agnès. 2004. “Generation Orange: The protest's driving force is the fearless youth,” La Presse (Canada), December 5, trans. George Zakhem. In Dominique Arel, “The Ukraine List (UKL),” No. 301 (December 5, 2004).
Guzelova, Irena. 2000. “New Candidate May Split Serbia Opposition Vote.” Financial Times, August 7, 7.
Heintz, Jim. 2005. “Dissatisfaction High in Kyrgyzstan Ahead of Elections Seen as Test of Commitment to Democracy.” Associated Press, February 27, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Herd, Graeme P. 2005. Colorful revolutions and the CIS: “Manufactured” versus “managed” democracy. Problems of Post-Communism 52 (2): 318.
Holley, David. 2004. “Snowy Tent City Holds Soul of Ukraine Protest: Opposition backers at the huge encampment believe they can alter the course of history.” Los Angeles Times, November 28. In Johnson's Russia List (JRL), No. 8472 (November 28, 2004).
Javeline, Debra. 2003a. Protest and the Politics of Blame: The Russian Response to Unpaid Wages. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Javeline, Debra. 2003b. The role of blame in collective action: Evidence from Russia. American Political Science Review 97 (1): 10721.
Jeremy Page hears two views from the battlefront,” Times (London), November 27, 2004, in Johnson's Russia List (JRL), No. 8471 (November 27, 2004).
Johnson, Andrew. 2003. “Power Struggle Breaks Out in Georgia as Opposition Proclaims Velvet Revolution.” Independent on Sunday (London), November 23, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Karatnycky, Adrian. 2005. Ukraine's Orange Revolution. Foreign Affairs 84 (2): 3552.
Kuran, Timur. 1991. Now out of never: The element of surprise in the East European revolution of 1989. World Politics 44 (1): 748.
Kuran, Timur. 1995. The inevitability of future revolutionary surprises. American Journal of Sociology 100 (6): 152851.
Kuzio, Taras. 2005a. From Kuchma to Yushchenko: Ukraine's 2004 presidential elections and the Orange Revolution. Problems of Post-Communism 50 (2): 2944.
Kuzio, Taras. 2005b. The opposition's road to success. Journal of Democracy 16 (2): 11730.
Lantukhina, Kira, and Maksim Glikin. 2005. “Political Animals.” Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 1, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2002. Elections without democracy: The rise of competitive authoritarianism. Journal of Democracy 13 (2): 5165.
Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2006. “Competitive Authoritarianism: The Origins and Evolution of Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War.” Toronto, Canada. Manuscript.
Lowe, Christian. 2003. “People power wins the day as Georgian leadership crumbles.” Agence France Presse, November 22, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
McFaul, Michael. 2005. Transitions from oostcommunism. Journal of Democracy 16 (3): 519.
McLaughlin, Daniel. 2005. “Monitors Cite Flaws in Central Asian Polls.” Irish Times, March 1, 11, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Myers, Steven Lee. 2005. “Ukraine President Sworn In Promising to Promote Unity,” New York Times, January 24. In Dominique Arel, “The Ukraine List (UKL),” No. 336 (January 25, 2005).
O'Donnell, Guillermo, and Philippe Schmitter. 1986. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Oliver, Pam. 1989. Bringing the crowd back in. Research in Social Movements, Conflict, and Change 11:130.
Olson, Mancur. 1971. The Logic of Collective Action; Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Page, Jeremy. 2005a. “From West to East, Rolling Revolution Gathers Pace across the Former USSR.” Times (London), February 19, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Page, Jeremy. 2005b. “Poll Protest in Kyrgyzstan Echoes Orange Revolution.” Times (London), March 16, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Page, Jeremy. 2005c. “Opposition Seize Second City in Kyrgyzstan Election Revolt.” The Times (London), March 22, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Phillips, Leigh. 2003. “Sugar daddies and revolutions; Georgia's revolt was something to celebrate. Does it matter that it was funded by a billionaire?New Statesman, December 8, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Racin, Stefan. 2000a. “Serbia's Opposition Blocs Begin Mud-Slinging.” United Press International (UPI), August 7, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Racin, Stefan. 2000b. “Yugoslav Election Panel Says Milosevic, Rival to Vie in 2nd Round.” UPI, September 26, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Savic, Misha. 2000. “Angry protesters meet in Belgrade for anti-Milosevic rally.” UPI, October 5, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Schelling, Thomas C. 1960. The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Schipani-Aduriz, Andres, and Alyaksandr Kudrytski. 2005. “Belarus: Banana Revolutions and Banana Skins.” Transitions Online, September 7. http://www.tol.cz/look/TOL/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=132&NrSection=3&NrArticle=14432.
Shepsle, Kenneth A., and Mark S. Bonchek. 1997. Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior and Institutions. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Silitski, Vitali. 2005. Is the age of post-Soviet electoral revolutions over? Democracy at Large 1 (4): 810.
Spencer, Richard. 2005. “Kyrgyzstan President Flees Tulip Revolution.” Daily Telegraph (London), March 25, 13, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Stephen, Chris. 2005. “Governor Held Captive in Election Protest.” Irish Times, March 17, 9, accessed in Lexis-Nexis.
Stier, Ken. 2003. “It Could Have Gone Badly.” Newsweek, December 8, Atlantic ed., 60, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Strauss, Julius. 2003. “‘He Left Us to Starve. Now He is Gone.’Daily Telegraph (London), November 24, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Tarrow, Sidney G. 1994. Power in Movement: Social Movements, Collective Action, and Politics. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Thompson, Mark R., and Philipp Kuntz. 2004. Stolen elections: The case of the Serbian October. Journal of Democracy 15 (4): 15972.
Thompson, Mark R., and Philipp Kuntz. 2005. “More than Just the Final Straw: Stolen Elections as Revolutionary Triggers.” Presented at the Conference on Authoritarian Regimes: Conditions for Stability and Change, Swedish Institute, Istanbul, Turkey, May 29–31.
Todorovic, Alex. 2000. “Serb Vote Holds Hope for Change.” Christian Science Monitor, August 2, 6.
Topuria, Nikolai. 2003a. “Georgian leadership on ropes as opposition launches ‘Velvet Revolution.’Agence France Presse, November 22, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Topuria, Nikolai. 2003b. “Mikhail Saakashvili, Architect of Georgia's ‘Velvet Revolution.’Agence France Presse, November 22, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Tunnard, Christopher R. 2003. The “anarchy” of the Internet: The changing influence of communications and information in Serbia in the 1990s. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 3 (2): 97120.
U.S. State Department,, 2005a. Country Background Notes: Ukraine, February 2005. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3211.htm, most recently accessed September 15, 2005.
U.S. State Department. 2005b. Country Background Notes: Kyrgyzstan, July 2005 http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5755.htm, last accessed September 18.
Vladimirov, Andrei. 2005. “Revoliutsiia na Eksport” (Revolution for Export), Itogi, December 7, 2004.
Way, Lucan. 2005a. Kuchma's failed authoritarianism. Journal of Democracy 16 (2): 131.
Way, Lucan. 2005b. Rapacious individualism and political competition in Ukraine: 1992–2004. Communist and Post-Communist Studies 38: 191205.
Way, Lucan. 2006. “Identity and Autocracy: Belarus and Ukraine Compared”. Presented at 2nd Annual Danyliw Research Seminar in Contemporary Ukrainian Studies, Toronto, Canada, October 12–14.
Weingast, Barry M. 1997. The political foundations of democracy and the rule of law. American Political Science Review 91 (2): 24563.
Weingast, Barry M. 2005. Self-Enforcing Constitutions: With an Application to Democratic Stability In America's First Century. Palo Alto, CA. Manuscript.
Weir, Fred. 2005. “Kyrgyz Politicians Strike Deal That Could Undo ‘Tulip’ Revolt.” Christian Science Monitor, March 29, 7, accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
Wheeler, Carolynne, and Mark MacKinnon. 2004. “Yushchenko claims victory in Ukraine election.” Globe and Mail, December 27. In Dominique Arel, “The Ukraine List (UKL),” No. 327 (December 27, 2004).
Wilson, Andrew. 2005. Ukraine's Orange Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Recommend this journal

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

Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 38
Total number of PDF views: 527 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1402 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 15th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.