Lobbying the Autocrat: The Dynamics of Policy Advocacy in Nondemocracies

Event details

PSC Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 11 July 2023




Max Gröemping


Maxine McArthur

Although authoritarian regimes routinely repress independent citizen activity, lobbying by civil society organisations is a widespread phenomenon in non-democracies around the world. “Lobbying the Autocrat” examines how advocacy groups engage with autocratic governments to achieve favourable policy outcomes, and when and why they are successful. Based on comparative case studies of China, Russia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, and Montenegro, and several large-N analyses, the volume theorises that three conditions – access to policy-making, information demands, and social control – structure the dynamics of policy advocacy under authoritarianism. These present challenges for both advocates and autocrats alike. The former are pushed by an environment of constant threat and uncertainty into a precarious dance with the dictator: just the right amount of acquiescence and assertiveness, private persuasion and public pressure, and the flexibility to change quickly to suit different situations. For the autocrat on the other hand, the more they stifle the associational sphere in an effort to prevent mass mobilisation, the less they will reap the informational benefits associated with it. Given these conditions, authoritarian advocacy systems are at the same time acutely constrained and surprisingly efficacious.

Max Gröemping is a senior lecturer at the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. He studies how citizens organise to effect policy change under different regimes and when and why this bolsters trust in institutions. Previously, he worked as a lecturer at Heidelberg University (Germany), research associate at the Electoral Integrity Project, University of Sydney (Australia), and instructor in international relations at Thammasat University (Thailand). Max is an associate editor for the journal Democratization. His work has been published in Political Communication, Governance, Party Politics, and Policy Sciences, among others.

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