Sunday, 6 April 2008

Crouching monkey, Wounded Tiger Pt. II

"It is as sudden as death. The only thing different is that you do not have to walk into a funeral home, peek into the box and say, 'Well, he was a nice guy'.

It is like the phases of death.

You have loss, anger, sadness, and then you come to accept it."
a defeated Liberal.

Political life is also exhilarating.

Immersed within its subculture, politicians readily believe that they are affecting change in a needed direction. As they are socialized into this subculture, they become convinced that they are becoming better at doing what they are supposed to do.
Initial feelings of uncertainty and confusion are replaced by confidence and determination. In the process, their status as politician becomes their master status, overtaking the various other statuses they occupy. However, while self-assured at this point, they are particularly vulnerable. It is within this context that political defeat at the polls is experienced as death.

The imagery of death rings true for yet another reason. The defeat generates a series of sympathetic telephone calls and visits from family members, friends and constituents offering words of solace and comfort.
As incapacitating as defeat may be, the defeated member must make sense of it. Expressions of mourning and grief are not experienced to the exclusion of other lines of thought, notably those helping to make the loss more understandable and palatable. In time, and with the assistance of others, a series of explanations for the loss -- rationalizations -- are embraced which serve to reduce the individual's culpability.

We now turn to the types of accounts employed by the defeated politicians to assuage their bruised egos. In short, they rely upon a variety of rationalizations which, whether recognized or not, serve to deflect responsibility for the outcome. These are presented as justifications for their defeat and situate the outcome of the election as being outside of the politician's control.

The Party and the Leader

In terms of party dynamics, ex-politicians may also blame their loss on their leader, the organization of the party, unpopular political decisions, or the calling of an election at an inopportune time. In this way, when the entire party is "swept" during an election, it supports the sentiment that the defeat was the result of the party platform or leadership issues rather than anything the politician could control or be responsible for.

In the process, ex-politicians distance themselves from responsibility for the loss and attempt to shield themselves from the negative repercussions accompanying the political defeat. In looking at party dynamics to explain their defeat, some politicians argue that the party did not have a sufficiently sound infrastructure in place to support its members. For instance, some maintain that proper educational mechanisms were unavailable.

In comparing their party to other parties during the election campaign, the competition, in their view, was better organized, thereby disadvantaging them in their quest for victory.
Tied to the issue of party organization is a belief that the party leader can either make or break one's own political campaign.
Therefore, in an attempt to distance oneself from the defeat, ex-politicians also look to place some of the blame on the leader of their party.
Once again, cues from the public often supply the ex-politician with the ammunition necessary to re-direct the blame for the loss.
While believing ahead of time that a loss was imminent may bring some consolation by providing the politician some time to plan and prepare for the defeat, there are still accompanying feelings of anger and possibly sorrow and guilt that need to be dealt with. However, if these emotions can be displaced onto something external to the politician, it helps to dampen the assault on one's ego.

By developing a rationalization which situates blame on a variety of seemingly external factors, the ex-politician if offered a more convincing justification as to why he or she was unsuccessful. At the same time, it allows the ex-politician to save face and deal with negative feelings experienced as the result of the defeat.
Having people encourage the belief that the loss had to do with the government as a whole and not the individual, allows the ex-politician to accept this rationalization. In the next example, we see that having friends indicate that the defeat was the result of her party affiliation rather than anything which she could have controlled, helps the individual come to terms with the defeat.

Please refer to earlier post Crouching Monkey, Wounded Tiger Pt I.
The above are comments from the article "Trauma of political defeat." It was written in 2002.
For those who wish to give Political Defeat Gifts to Grieving Parties please click here.
"Crouching Monkey, Wounded Tiger Pt III" will be coming to this blog soon .....

Crouching Monkey, Wounded Tiger Pt. I

"It is as sudden as death. The only thing different is that you do not have to walk into a funeral home, peek into the box and say, 'Well, he was a nice guy'.
"It is like the phases of death. You have loss, anger, sadness, and then you come to accept it."

Brownlee, Jason. "Ruling Parties and Regime Persistence: Durable Electoral Authoritarianism in Egypt and Malaysia" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, Aug 27, 2003

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper demonstrates why electoral authoritarian systems benefit from party institutions that prevent leadership rifts by accommodating dissent and managing elite interests. I present Egypt and Malaysia’s experiences with ruling parties and regime persistence, the contrast outcome to incumbent defeat. By regulating leadership politics, the NDP in Egypt and UMNO in Malaysia have held together a dominant cadre and repeatedly blocked opposition forces from winning control of government.

Barclay, Pascael. "Do Authoritarian Elections Matter? Political Business Cycles in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES, Mar 26, 2008

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Do elections in authoritarian regimes matter? It is often assumed that they are mere window dressing. Yet it is also possible that these elections have independent effects, which make authoritarian leaders care about the elections, despite their ability to manipulate the results through fraud and repression. One way to discover whether authoritarian elections matter is to examine political business cycles (PBCs) in electoral authoritarian (EA) regimes. This study shows that PBCs occur cross-nationally in authoritarian regimes that hold regular elections, but only when the incumbent faces a challenger. In fact, government consumption increases by .43% in election years in competitive elections. Although this number is small, elections have the largest impact on government spending of the variables included in the model. Also, evidence from case studies portray PBCs in authoritarian regimes as targeted and informal. Therefore, in the case of informal spending, much pre-electoral spending may not be captured by overall government consumption or, in the case of targeted spending, the magnitude of the increase for certain groups will similarly not be captured by this aggregate variable. From the evidence presented in this study, we can conclude that PBCs occur in competitive authoritarian settings, indicating that dictators care about electoral returns.

Thompson, Mark. and Kuntz, Philipp. "To Steal or not to Steal: Authoritarian Regime Behavior after Electoral Defeat" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, Sep 02, 2004

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The terrain that authoritarian regimes enter after electoral defeats has been roughly surveyed but not yet well mapped. We show that there are other outcomes than the two options of stealing an election and retaining office or accepting defeat and surrendering power. There is also the possibility of regimes stealing elections but losing power after failing to effectively repress popular protest. In other cases, non-democratic rulers have accepted defeat but still maintained ultimate political power. We then offer a few explanations for these different paths. We coin the term “electoral sultanism” to stress the importance of personalistic interests in explaining electoral theft. Parallel to this was the argument that regimes with stronger institutional interests are more likely to concede that the opposition has won because regime members are better able to defend vital interests outside of power. Whether regimes hold onto power after accepting defeat depends basically upon the scope of the election. Conceding defeat in polls that are constitutionally limited because they are local, or only referenda, or constrained in their impact due to “dual power” in the state does not lead to the loss of power and can even contribute to authoritarian consolidation. Only conceding defeat in national elections for the highest office makes a withdrawal from power inevitable. Limited polls have been stolen nonetheless because autocrats estimated the costs in acknowledging defeat - a loss of reputation or the creation of “oppositional islands” - as too high.