Alternative Ideological Legacies of Authoritarianism: Pro-dictator Bias in Post-developmental States

Party Politics

How does an authoritarian past shape voters’ left-right orientation? Recent studies investigated “anti-dictator bias” in political ideology that citizens of a former right-wing (left-wing) dictatorship may display a leftist (rightist) bias in their ideological self-identification. I argue “pro-dictator bias” that citizens may hold ideological positions corresponding to those of the dictator based on three reasons: first, successors of a former dictator may still dominate politics in some countries with inherited political resources from the past; second, not all former dictators are evaluated negatively and even attract positive evaluation based on their performance, evoking authoritarian nostalgia; and third, the political environment that shaped former dictators’ ideological position may persist under the new regime, prolonging the ideology’s relevance. I test this hypothesis across former developmental states in East and Southeast Asia, which were excluded in previous studies. I find strong rightist bias among these citizens who inherited former dictators’ nationalistic and anti-communist ideologies. I further investigate whether the bias merely reflects sentiments toward the former ideological label or is rooted in specific policy preferences. These findings emphasize different types of legacies of former dictators originating from performance of former regimes.

Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell
Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell
Senior Lecturer and Program Coordinator