Dictators face a power‐sharing dilemma: Broadening elite incorporation mitigates prospects for outsider rebellions (by either elites excluded from power or the masses), but it raises the risk of insider coups. This article rethinks the theoretical foundations of the power‐sharing dilemma and its consequences. My findings contrast with and provide conditionalities for a “conventional threat logic,” which argues that large outsider threats compel dictators to create broader‐based regimes, despite raising coup risk. Instead, I analyze a game‐theoretic model to explain why the magnitude of the elite outsider threat ambiguously affects power‐sharing incentives. Dictators with weak coup‐proofing institutions or who face deeply entrenched elites take the opposite actions predicted by the conventional logic. An additional outsider threat from the masses can either exacerbate or eliminate the power‐sharing dilemma with elites, depending on elite affinity toward mass rule. Examining the elite‐mass interaction also generates new implications for how mass threats affect the likelihood of coups and regime overthrow.
American Journal of Political Science – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 2021