Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Politics and Government: Political Science

First Advisor

Ali Riaz


The world we live in is increasingly becoming authoritarian. Although the majority of the world’s states are now ruled by authoritarian regimes, there is no clear scholarly consensus on how the rising authoritarian regimes legitimize their rule to stay in power. This thesis investigates the central research question: how do electoral authoritarian regimes legitimize their rule? The conventional literature broadly offers two key institutional legitimization strategies of authoritarian regimes: procedural and performance. However, it has largely overlooked non-institutional or ideological legitimization strategy. This thesis addresses this gap and offers a comprehensive theoretical framework by combining both institutional and non-institutional features. This thesis develops a three-fold regime legitimation framework, that includes three broad strategies – procedural, performance, and ideological. It argues that non-institutional or ideological legitimation strategy works in combination with institutional strategies to construct legitimacy in electoral authoritarian contexts.The thesis insists that electoral authoritarian regimes concurrently apply these three regime legitimation strategies to legitimize their rule. This thesis then applies the three-fold regime legitimation framework in three dissimilar country contexts – Bangladesh, Hungary, and Turkey, to evaluate the theoretical framework’s applicability and develop a generalized understanding on regime legitimation in electoral authoritarian regimes. The empirical findings of this thesis strongly support the theoretical framework. The findings suggest that despite having dissimilar historical, geographical, political, institutional, cultural, and demographic characteristics, the electoral authoritarian regimes in Bangladesh, Hungary, and Turkey, apply three similar regime legitimation strategies to legitimize their rule. This thesis concludes that the three-fold regime legitimation framework is applicable to diverse authoritarian contexts and can be used to analyze the legitimation process in authoritarian regimes.


Imported from Rana_ilstu_0092N_12011.pdf


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