When autocrats face threats of nonviolent mass mobilization, they are likely to respond with repression. However, when will the autocrat initiate, step up, or downscale repressive behavior during such protest events? We propose that signals of support from great power patrons play a pivotal role in emboldening rulers to engage in and intensify repressive behavior. To probe this hypothesis, we analyze how supportive and nonsupportive actions and statements of the great powers in the United Nations Security Council shape the repressive behavior of authoritarian regimes during three recent, and similar, cases of protest events: Burma 2007, Zimbabwe 2008, and Burkina Faso 2014. The cases show that the more unequivocal and consistent patron support for the besieged regime is the firmer and more violent are the responses to the domestic challengers.
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Tolstrup, J., Seeberg, M. A., & Glavind, J. G. (2019). Signals of Support From Great Power Patrons and the Use of Repression During Nonviolent Protests. Comparative Political Studies, 52(4), 514-543. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414018784047