History of Electoral Intimidation and Democratic Stability: The Case of Weimar Germany

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 253 (University of Glasgow)
Volha Charnysh , Government, Harvard University
Daniel Ziblatt , Harvard University
Does a subnational history of electoral intimidation affect the probability of democratic survival in times of economic crisis? We find that the patterns of electoral irregularities in German constituencies in 1871-1912 are associated with greater support for the NSDAP in 1930-32. We hypothesize that electoral manipulation served as a substitute for traditional party building and thus undermined organizational development of the German Conservative Party and its Weimar successor, German National People's Party (DNVP). Under unfavorable economic conditions, the areas with weaker party organization became especially vulnerable to Nazi appeals in the 1930s. Understanding the relationship between electoral intimidation and support for the extreme right can provide novel insights into the prospects for democratic stability in societies with histories of authoritarianism.