Power Distribution and Informal Elite Competition under Authoritarianism


This paper explores the nature of factional competition under authoritarian regime using novel data from China. Employing news reports in Chinese national and local newspapers from 2000 to 2014, coupled with elite network data, we provide empirical evidence that national leader’s political power affects connected public official’s competitive behavior against one another. We find that provincial leaders connected to powerful national leaders are more likely to promote negative news about officials linked to weaker national leaders. These negative reports indeed harm the promotion prospects of reported-on province leaders, weakening the already weak factions. Our analyses show that factional competition in China has a tendency of power dominance, rather than power balancing or sharing, suggesting that informal competition among factions does not lead to stable power-sharing outcomes.

Working Paper