Limited and unlimited demands: how the geography of protest dictates regime strategies of accommodation
(University of Sussex)
Daniel Wigmore-Shepherd (University of Sussex)
Paper short abstract:
Regimes frequently offer senior government positions as a means to mitigate threats and accommodate opposition movements. However, does the geography of protest affect regime strategies of accommodation? This question is explored through examining cabinets in multiple African states.
Paper long abstract:
Cabinet reshuffles are widely regarded as means to limit internal rivals and as a means to assuage public discontent. Leaders regularly appoint new government ministers, or dismiss the sitting ones, in an attempt to manage inter-elite relations or to accommodate the requests of popular protests. However, how variations in these threats dictate the breadth and depth of changes within the senior government remains unexplored. Focusing on public discontent, we argue that the geography of the protests can produce different government responses, ranging from absent or limited change in the ruling coalition to a full reshuffle or even the cabinet's eventual resignation. This theory is tested by examining how protest affects changes to the cabinet within and across several African states. The findings demonstrate that cabinet instability reveals the strategies by which regimes use accommodation in an attempt to ensure their political survival. Through this analysis, the article seeks to provide a more granular understanding of regime reactions to protests, and to also contribute to a growing focus on African executives.
Democratic and autocratic disruptions