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Julian Michel

Dissertation Fellow
UC Los Angeles

Julian Michel is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at UC Los Angeles. Julian’s dissertation investigates why some democratically elected leaders undermine democracy, whereas others do not. In his theoretical framework, opposition parties are more able to check the national executive the more they control subnational executive office: governor- and key mayorships. To test this hypothesis, he relies on a novel, large-scale data collection on subnational election results in post-1990 democracies and employs the tools of causal inference. If empirically supported, this work would ask us to broaden our concept of “checks and balances” by highlighting how the executive itself, when vertically split across administrative tiers, is internally more balanced the more opposition parties govern at the subnational level. In non-dissertation work, Julian is co-leading a field experiment in Sierra Leone on whether taxation induces demands for accountability when democracy has already been established. In the same setting, he also explores how digital participatory budgeting increased trust in government during COVID-19. In Hong Kong, he studies quasi-experimentally whether citizens are less likely to engage in pro-democratic protest when they have better opportunities to emigrate. Finally, with two co-authors, he employs novel archival data from the German Democratic Republic to show how dictators use emigration as a tool to stabilize their rule.

Proposal Title: The Subnational Roots of Democratic Stability

Expertise & Interests

  • Democracy
  • Opposition parties
  • Regimes