Sharon Rivera.

Sharon Werning Rivera, the Sidney Wertimer Professor of Government, recently presented a paper at the 81st Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) in Chicago. Titled “Effects of Succession Signaling on Elites in Authoritarian Regimes: A Natural Experiment in Russia,” the paper presented results of a study in which Rivera and co-author Henry E. Hale of George Washington University used a natural experiment to explore Russian elites’ expectations of leaders’ invincibility and permanence.

The study used data from the 2020 round of the Survey of Russian Elites. Approximately two-thirds of the 243 elites surveyed in that round had answered multiple questions about the regime before Vladimir Putin’s March 10 surprise announcement of a constitutional change that would reset his term-limit clock; the remainder completed the survey after the announcement.

Rivera and Hale found that Putin’s “succession signal” strengthened perceptions of autocratic longevity and regime stability, and to a limited extent, autocratic resolve. Their findings also showed that it escalated uncertainty, reflecting the growing deinstitutionalization and personalization of the regime.

In addition to presenting at the conference, Rivera served as the chair of a panel titled, “Leaders, Leadership, and Strategic Decision-making,” on which she was also a discussant.

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