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The George Washington University

Bucerius Fieldwork Grant

Behind the Rubber Stamp: Explaining the Political Salience of Legislatures in Electoral Authoritarianism


When and why do parliaments in stable electoral authoritarian regimes transcend their normal role as rubber-stamps? What leads such legislative institutions to become centers of opposition obstruction, inter-elite political contestation, or even active, loyalist policy-making? The dissertation provides for a typology of parlia-mentary activity under authoritarianism, theorizing the elite- and structural-level factors that predict when legislative institutions move beyond a rubber-stamp role and what forms such activity takes. Using a mixed-methods approach, this dissertation explores such questions in the data-rich context of the Russian Federation's State Duma under Vladimir Putin, tracing legislative debates, voting patterns, institutional change, and variation in the initiation and content of legislation over time to gain empirical leverage on the topic. Additionally, the project expands its theoretical reach with process-tracing case studies from widely divergent cultural, historical, and institutional environments globally, assessing the degree to which we can understand spikes in the political activity of authoritarian parliaments as regularized and patterned, if infrequent, events cross-nationally. 

Julian G. Waller is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at The George Washington University. His research focuses on the role of formal political institutions such as parliaments and political parties under electoral authoritarianism and hybrid regimes, with a regional area of focus in the post-Soviet space. He has been supported by the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, the David L. Boren Scholarship, and the Critical Language Scholarship. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and a Master of Arts in Political Science from The George Washington University. 



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