Carolyn Coberly is currently a PhD candidate in Politics at the University of Virginia, where she studies party and party system development in transitional democracies and electoral authoritarian regimes.  A former American diplomat and Congressional aide, Coberly has a Masters in Russian and Eurasian Studies from Harvard University and completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University.

Project Summary

Coberly's research examines the intersection between the development of state capacity and political parties in electoral authoritarian countries, arguing that a state’s ability to implement policy shapes the way elites organize and bargain collectively.  Coberly's work is focused on politics at the individual level, arguing that politicians will not organize around party platforms unless the state is able to implement those ideas.  In low-capacity states, politicians will bargain individually for personal benefits, leading to fractionalized and patronal parties.  In medium-capacity states, however, incentives exist for politicians to organize around policy reform and other public goods, leading to larger in-system opposition parties.  To test her hypothesis, Coberly interviewed politicians in four electoral authoritarian countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan – that vary across state capacity and state repression, but share common prior institutions and history.