Oren Samet is pursuing a PhD in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include comparative politics and comparative democratization, with a particular focus on political transitions, parties, and elections in Southeast Asia. Before coming to Berkeley, he worked in various roles for non-governmental organizations in Thailand, including as Research and Advocacy Director for ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a network of regional legislators. He previously worked as a Junior Fellow in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and holds a B.A. in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.
When and how do opposition parties look beyond their borders for support? Outside of established democracies, oppositions often face an uneven playing field and significant barriers to gaining power. International actors, such as foreign governments, diasporas, and transnational activists, present opposition parties with resources to help overcome these challenges. But efforts to engage foreign actors also come with potential risks: these activities can eat up limited resources, and opposition parties engaged in them can be tagged as tools of foreign interference, threatening to undermine their domestic support. In the context of these considerations, some opposition leaders spend significant time abroad meeting with dignitaries and soliciting support, while others focus squarely on the domestic realm. What shapes this variation? And how do these choices impact the ultimate ability of opposition parties to succeed in dislodging incumbents? My research explores these questions on a global scale, as well as through a focused examination of cases in Southeast Asia.