SNF Agora Faculty Seminars: Michael Albertus

Part of our SNF Agora Faculty Seminars, AY21–22
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  • Michael Albertus
  • Political Science, University of Chicago
  • Paper title: “The Political Price of Authoritarian Control: Evidence from Francoist Land Settlements in Spain”

Many authoritarian regimes around the world use policy-based strategies of social control in lieu of more coercive tools like repression. When these regimes fall to democracy, do authoritarian successors pay a political price for these policies? This paper examines the political cost of one common authoritarian policy of control—land settlement schemes—in the context of Spain. The Franco dictatorship initiated a decades-long program to ameliorate land pressure by resettling excess rural labor in hundreds of new government-created towns in colonization zones throughout the country. This paper examines post-democratization voting patterns in municipalities containing new towns compared to a counterfactual set of proximate similar municipalities that were also in government-created colonization zones. I find that land settlement caused a backlash once Spain returned to democracy: voters turned left and were less likely to support the regime’s successor party. I attribute this to a legacy of authoritarian political and economic oversight and manipulation in newly settled towns.


About the speaker:

Headshot of Michael AlbertusMichael Albertus is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His main research focus is on the political conditions under which governments implement egalitarian reforms. His first book, Autocracy and Redistribution: The Politics of Land Reform, published by Cambridge University Press, examines why and when land reform programs are implemented. It won the 2016 Luebbert Award for best book published in comparative politics in 2014 or 2015. Other research interests include political regime transitions and stability, politics under dictatorship, clientelism, and civil conflict. Albertus’ work has been published in the American Journal of Political ScienceWorld PoliticsJournal of Conflict ResolutionQuarterly Journal of Political ScienceBritish Journal of Political ScienceComparative Political StudiesInternational Studies QuarterlyWorld Development, and elsewhere.