Drawing on evidence from Ukraine and other post-Soviet states, this article analyses the use of a tool of political coercion known in the post-communist world as adminresurs, or administrative resource. Administrative resource is characterized by the pre-election capture of bureaucratic hierarchies by an incumbent regime in order to secure electoral success at the margins. In contrast to other forms of political corruption, administrative resource fundamentally rewrites existing social contracts. It redefines access to settled entitlements—public infrastructure, social services, and labor compensation—as rewards for political support. It is thus explicitly negative for publics, who stand to lose access to existing entitlements if they do not support incumbents. The geography of its success in post-communist states suggests that this tool of authoritarian capacity building could be deployed anywhere two conditions are present: where there are economically vulnerable populations, and where economic and political spheres of life overlap.

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