According to the Varieties of Democracy project, in 2021, 68% of the world's population live in nondemocracies. The dominant form of nondemocracy are electoral autocracies, regimes that permit opposition parties and uncompetitive elections. To manage dissent, governments in these regimes increasingly rely on strategies of nonviolent repression. Using the law, for example, they reduce spaces available for protest and restrict opposition groups' access to funding.

Restrictions on protest rights, intensified in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, are one of the most common strategies of repression today, affecting two thirds of the world's population. While international organisations' and advanced democracies' ability to document and condemn repressive practices is critical for defending democracy, our understanding of nonviolent repression is limited.

Existing research does not adequately 1) explore strategies of repression that do not involve the use of brutal force or coercion; 2) study agents of repression beyond the security apparatus; and, 3) problematize how nonviolent repression influences opposition parties and voters.

This project offers the first systematic study of how strategies of nonviolent repression influence protest coordination between different types of opposition parties and voters in electoral autocracies. We focus on one strategy of nonviolent repression in particular, the use of protest permit authorizations.

Traditionally used to facilitate negotiations between protest organisers and the authorities, protest permit requirements are often used as a tool of political control in order to redirect, dissuade, and prohibit demonstrations. Seldom effective at preventing protests, protest notifications and laws regulating protests also allow the authorities to fine, arrest, and prosecute the organisers and participants of unauthorised events - those that go ahead without a permit. I explore the effect of protest notifications on opposition and voter coordination through a study of Russian protest coalitions and public opinion. Russia, one of the world's most influential electoral autocracies, is an innovator in using nonviolent strategies of control at home, before exporting them abroad. This project asks:

How do strategies of nonviolent repression, such as protest notifications, influence opposition and voter coordination in electoral autocracies?

What factors amplify, or undermine their effect on opposition and voter coordination in these regimes?

Drawing on insights from comparative politics and sociology, the project aims to advance scholarship on authoritarian politics and repression. It also aims to advance methods for collecting protest notifications and protest event data, and for eliciting responses to sensitive survey questions in electoral autocracies.

Through research dissemination activities and teaching, the project also intends to increase public awareness of nonviolent repression. Finally, the project aims to impact policy and NGO monitoring of civic space developments. It will do so by delivering new data, workshops, and articles that improve understanding of contemporary electoral autocracies and nonviolent repression.