Authoritarian Repression and Electoral Opposition: Mobilization under Germany’s Antisocialist Law

Professor Thomson argues that targeted repression of opposition leaders has both direct and negative effects on mobilization and indirect effects on activist and voter support. However, party organizations and ideological leadership can adapt to mitigate targeted repression’s effects. He estimates difference in differences models that leverage variation in expulsion timing and frequency to estimate their effects on electoral outcomes. 

Expulsions caused declines in social democrats’ electoral support. However, their effects diminished with each additional expulsion and after the first election post-expulsions, as local party organizations adapted to maintain mobilization in electoral districts despite targeted repression.