Forthcoming Publications

Lutscher, Philipp, Nils B. Weidmann, Molly Roberts, Mattijs Jonker, Alistair King and Alberto Dainotti. "At Home and Abroad: The Use of Denial-of-Service Attacks during Elections in Non-democratic Regimes"

Journal of Conflict Resolution

In this article, we study the political use of Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, a particular form of cyberattack that disable web services by flooding them with high levels of data traffic. We argue that websites in non-democratic regimes should be especially prone to this type of attack, particularly around political focal points such as elections. This is due to two mechanisms: governments employ DoS attacks to censor regime-threatening information, while at the same time, activists use DoS attacks as a tool to publicly undermine the government's authority. We analyze these mechanisms by relying on a novel way to measure DoS attacks based on large-scale Internet traffic data. Our results show that in authoritarian countries, elections indeed increase the number of DoS attacks. However, these attacks do not seem to be directed primarily against the country itself, but rather against other states that serve as hosts for news websites from this country.

Hellmeier, Sebastian and Nils B. Weidmann. "Pulling the Strings? The Strategic Use of Pro-Government Mobilization in Authoritarian Regimes"

Comparative Political Studies

Protest against authoritarian rule is a well-studied phenomenon in the social sciences, but mass rallies in favor of authoritarian regimes have received only limited scholarly attention. While previous work has portrayed authoritarian regimes as characterized by mass apathy and political demobilization, we show that this is only partially true today. We argue that autocrats mobilize their supporters selectively as a strategic response to political threats. Rallies increase collective action costs for rivaling elites, opposition movements and bystanders because they signal regime strength (deterrence) and curb mobilization efforts against the regime (repression). Nevertheless, the mobilization of supporters is costly, as autocrats have only imperfect information about current levels of support, rallies require organizational capacity and clashes between supporters and opponents can get out of control. Drawing on the first global data set with information about pro-government rally events in all authoritarian regimes from 2003 to 2015, our quantitative analysis reveals systematic patterns in the occurrence of rallies in line with our theoretical framework. We find systematic increases in pro-government mobilization during episodes of large domestic and regional opposition mobilization, high coup risk and prior to elections.

Ziaja, Sebastian. "More donors, more democracy"

The Journal of Politics

A country’s democracy improves when it receives democracy aid from more donor countries. This finding appears surprising from a development perspective, as the presence of a large number of donors, or more generally ‘fragmented aid’, have been shown to impact negatively on the recipient country. But fragmented aid can be beneficial: Diversity on the donor side provides choice to the local actors involved in the process of democratization. It thus creates a ‘marketplace for idea support’ which increases the viability of the resulting institutions. In contrast, a highly-concentrated donor community can lead to the imposition of an institutional blueprint, designed in advance and not adapted to the needs of the recipient society. An instrumental variable analysis with panel data for 130 countries from 1994 to 2013, explicit tests of the causal mechanism, and anecdotal evidence from Ghana provide strong support for the benefits of diverse democracy aid.

Weidmann, Nils B. and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. "Geodaten und deren Analyse in der Politikwissenschaft"

Handbuch Methoden der Politikwissenschaft, ed. C. Wagemann, M. Siewert und A. Goerres

Räumliche Daten und Phänomene spielen eine wachsende Rolle in der Politikwissenschaft. Durch die Entwicklung von Geografischen Informationssystemen (GIS) und Geodatensätzen werden Wissenschaftlern neue und mächtige Analysewerkzeuge an die Hand gegeben. In diesem Kapitel geben wir eine kurze Einführung in die Verwendung räumlicher Methoden für die politikwissenschaftliche Forschung. Wir beginnen mit grundlegenden Konzepten und diskutieren die Datentypen, die für die Speicherung räumlicher Daten verwendet werden. Anhand einiger Beispiele geben wir einen Einblick in verfügbare Datensätze, die in der Politikwissenschaft Verwendung gefunden haben. Wir beschreiben drei verschiedene Ansätze, wie GIS Werkzeuge und Daten eingesetzt werden können und diskutieren die Schwierigkeiten, die dabei auftreten können.

Updated and translated version of Kristian Skrede Gleditsch and Nils B. Weidmann. Richardson in the Information Age: GIS and Spatial Data in International Studies. Annual Review of Political Science, 2012.