Michael Wahman / Matthias Basedau

Electoral Rentierism? The Cross-National and Subnational Effect of Oil on Electoral Competitiveness in Multiparty Autocracies

GIGA Working Paper, No. 272, April 2015

Building on theoretical insights from research on the rentier state and the "resource curse," several studies have supported the argument that oil hinders democracy. However, previous research on the rentier state has neglected the global surge of multiparty autocracies or "electoral authoritarian" regimes since the end of the Cold War. No systematic study has been carried out on the question of whether or not and how oil affects electoral contests in nondemocratic regimes. In this paper we contribute to filling this gap by combing the literature on multiparty autocracy and the political economy of the rentier state. As oil production creates substantial, nontransparent revenue streams to national and subnational governments, we hypothesize that oil production has a negative effect on electoral competitiveness, both cross‐ and subnationally, in multiparty autocracies. Consequently, the democratic "resource curse" emphasized in earlier work on the rentier state is likely to persist even after the introduction of multipartyism in cases where oil production predates democratic institutions. The paper tests the hypothesis cross‐nationally, using data on all multiparty elections held in the world in the period 1975–2010, and subnationally, using a new data set on subnational election results and oil production in Nigeria. Our results confirm that oil impedes electoral competitiveness, both cross‐ and subnationally, in multiparty autocracies.

Related Research at the GIGA

Related Research Tabs

GIGA Authors

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

Director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs
Editor GIGA Focus Africa

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau is director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs and professor of political science at the University of Hamburg. His research focuses on political institutions and armed conflicts, as well as how both are linked to ethnicity, religion, and natural resources. He is also the regional coordinator for Central and West Africa within the framework of the Bertelsmann Transformation Index.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Matthias Basedau

Party Systems in Africa

in: Nic Cheeseman (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming

Matthias Basedau / Vita Roy

Sleep, Bark, or Bite: Do Natural Resources Make the Difference Regarding Peaceful or Violent Conflict?

International Area Studies Review, 23, 2020, 1, 73-92

Lisa Hoffmann / Matthias Basedau / Simone Gobien / Sebastian Prediger

Universal love or one true religion? Experimental evidence of the ambivalent effect of religious ideas on altruism and discrimination

American Journal of Political Science, 64, 2020, 3, 603-620

Matthias Basedau

Die ‚African Renaissance‘: Möglichkeiten für die deutsche und europäische Afrikapolitik

in: Metis (ed.), Metis-Perspektiven: Afrika – der aufsteigende Kontinent, Berlin und München: Metis, 2019, 6-10