Truex, R. (2017). "Authoritarian Gridlock? Understanding Delay in the Chinese Legislative System." Working Paper. Princeton University, Department of Politics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Legislative gridlock is often viewed as a uniquely democratic phenomenon. The institutional checks and balances that produce gridlock are absent from authoritarian systems, leading many observers to romanticize "authoritarian efficiency" and policy dynamism. A unique dataset from the Chinese case demonstrates that authoritarian regimes can have trouble passing laws and changing policies- 48% of laws are not passed within the period specified in legislative plans, and about 12% of laws take over ten years to pass. This paper develops a theory that relates variation in legislative outcomes to the absence of division within the ruling coalition and citizen attention shocks. Qualitative analysis of China's Food Safety Law (2009), coupled with shadow case studies of two other laws, illustrate the plausibility of the theoretical mechanisms. Division and public opinion play decisive roles in authoritarian legislative processes.
Truex, R. & D. Tavana (2017). "Implicit Attitudes Towards an Authoritarian Regime." Working Paper. Princeton University, Department of Politics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
This study measures Egyptian citizens’ attitudes towards President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi using a Single Category Implicit Association Test (SCIAT). Roughly 58% of respondents hold positive implicit attitudes towards Sisi, which suggests a deeper reservoir of popular support than is conventionally assumed. The data also allows for an investigation of attitude dissociation, whereby individuals hold distinct implicit and explicit attitudes towards a target object. Government employees and Copts are more likely to hold positive explicit attitudes towards Sisi but negative or neutral implicit attitudes. Students appear to systematically engage in inverse dissociation- they voice criticism towards Sisi despite holding more positive implicit attitudes. These findings are interpretable using the Associative-Propositional Evaluation model. The paper closes with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the implicit approach relative to other sensitive question techniques.
Truex, R. (2016). "Focal Points, Dissident Calendars, and Preemptive Repression." Working Paper. Princeton University, Department of Politics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
This paper develops and tests a theory that explains temporal variation in repression as a function of the "dissident calendar," the set of events that serve as natural focal points for coordination. The core argument is that regimes can anticipate the events that create these focal points and engage in preemptive repression to survive their passing. This dynamic produces predictable, often cyclical patterns in repression. An analysis of dissident detentions in China from 1998 to 2014 shows that "focal events" alone appear to be responsible for more than 20% of dissident detentions over the analysis period. Such detentions tend to be shorter and rely less on formal criminal procedures, suggesting a "catch-and-release" dynamic. Additional analyses of detentions in Tibet shows how the calendar may vary by issue or group.