In order to truly understand the emergence, endurance, and legacy of autocracy, this volume of engaging essays explores how autocratic power is acquired, exercised, and transferred or abruptly ended through the careers and politics of influential figures in more than 20 countries and six regions. The book looks at both traditional "hard" dictators, such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, and more modern "soft" or populist autocrats, who are in the process of transforming once fully democratic countries into autocratic states, including Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Narendra Modi in India, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary. The authors touch on a wide range of autocratic and dictatorial figures in the past and present, including present-day autocrats, such as Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, military leaders, and democratic leaders with authoritarian aspirations. They analyze the transition of selected autocrats from democratic or benign semi-democratic systems to harsher forms of autocracy, with either quite disastrous or more successful outcomes. An ideal reader for students and scholars, as well as the general public, interested in international affairs, leadership studies, contemporary history and politics, global studies, security studies, economics, psychology, and behavioral studies.
How do dictatorships justify their rule and with what effects? This and similar questions guide the contributions to this edited volume. Despite the recent resurgence of political science scholarship on autocratic resilience, many questions remain unanswered about the role of legitimation in contemporary non-democracies and its relationship with neighbouring concepts, like ideology, censorship, and consent. The overarching thesis of this book is that autocratic legitimation has causal influence on numerous outcomes of interest in authoritarian politics. These outcomes include regime resilience, challenger-state interactions, the procedures and operations of elections, social service provision, and the texture of everyday life in autocracies. Researchers of autocratic politics will benefit from the rich contributions of this volume. The chapters in this book were originally published in a special issue of Contemporary Politics.
Authoritarianism research has evolved into one of the fastest growing research fields in comparative politics. The newly awakened interest in autocratic regimes goes hand in hand with a lack of systematic research on the results of the political and substantive policy performance of variants of autocratic regimes. The contributions in this second volume of Comparing Autocracies are united by the assumption that the performance of political regimes and their persistence are related. Furthermore, autocratic institutions and the specific configurations of elite actors within authoritarian regime coalitions induce dictators to undertake certain policies, and that different authoritarian institutions are therefore an important piece of the puzzle of government performance in dictatorships. Based on these two prepositions, the contributions explore the differences between autocracies and democracies, as well as between different forms of non-democratic regimes, in regard to their outcome performance in selected policy fields; how political institutions affect autocratic performance and persistence; whether policy performance matter for the persistence of authoritarian rule; and what happens to dictators once autocratic regimes fall. This book is an amalgam of articles from the journals Democratization, Contemporary Politics and Politische Vierteljahresschrift.
This accessible volume shines a light on how autocracy really works by providing basic facts about how post-World War II dictatorships achieve, retain, and lose power. The authors present an evidence-based portrait of key features of the authoritarian landscape with newly collected data about 200 dictatorial regimes. They examine the central political processes that shape the policy choices of dictatorships and how they compel reaction from policy makers in the rest of the world. Importantly, this book explains how some dictators concentrate great power in their own hands at the expense of other members of the dictatorial elite. Dictators who can monopolize decision making in their countries cause much of the erratic, warlike behavior that disturbs the rest of the world. By providing a picture of the central processes common to dictatorships, this book puts the experience of specific countries in perspective, leading to an informed understanding of events and the likely outcome of foreign responses to autocracies.
How do dictators stay in power? When, and how, do they use repression to do so? Dictators and their Secret Police explores the role of the coercive apparatus under authoritarian rule in Asia - how these secret organizations originated, how they operated, and how their violence affected ordinary citizens. Greitens argues that autocrats face a coercive dilemma: whether to create internal security forces designed to manage popular mobilization, or defend against potential coup. Violence against civilians, she suggests, is a byproduct of their attempt to resolve this dilemma. Drawing on a wealth of new historical evidence, this book challenges conventional wisdom on dictatorship: what autocrats are threatened by, how they respond, and how this affects the lives and security of the millions under their rule. It offers an unprecedented view into the use of surveillance, coercion, and violence, and sheds new light on the institutional and social foundations of authoritarian power.
Contrary to our stereotypical views, dictators often introduce elections in which they refrain from employing blatant electoral fraud. Why do electoral reforms happen in autocracies? Do these elections destabilize autocratic rule? The Dictator’s Dilemma at the Ballot Box argues that strong autocrats who can garner popular support become less dependent on coercive electioneering strategies. When autocrats fail to design elections properly, elections backfire in the form of coups, protests, and the opposition’s stunning election victories. The book’s theoretical implications are tested on a battery of cross-national analyses with newly collected data on autocratic elections and in-depth comparative case studies of the two Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
What drives politics in dictatorships? Milan W. Svolik argues authoritarian regimes must resolve two fundamental conflicts. Dictators face threats from the masses over which they rule - the problem of authoritarian control. Secondly from the elites with whom dictators rule - the problem of authoritarian power-sharing. Using the tools of game theory, Svolik explains why some dictators establish personal autocracy and stay in power for decades; why elsewhere leadership changes are regular and institutionalized, as in contemporary China; why some dictatorships are ruled by soldiers, as Uganda was under Idi Amin; why many authoritarian regimes, such as PRI-era Mexico, maintain regime-sanctioned political parties; and why a country's authoritarian past casts a long shadow over its prospects for democracy, as the unfolding events of the Arab Spring reveal. Svolik complements these and other historical case studies with the statistical analysis on institutions, leaders and ruling coalitions across dictatorships from 1946 to 2008.
How a new breed of dictators holds power by manipulating information and faking democracy Hitler, Stalin, and Mao ruled through violence, fear, and ideology. But in recent decades a new breed of media-savvy strongmen has been redesigning authoritarian rule for a more sophisticated, globally connected world. In place of overt, mass repression, rulers such as Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Viktor Orbán control their citizens by distorting information and simulating democratic procedures. Like spin doctors in democracies, they spin the news to engineer support. Uncovering this new brand of authoritarianism, Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman explain the rise of such “spin dictators,” describing how they emerge and operate, the new threats they pose, and how democracies should respond. Spin Dictators traces how leaders such as Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and Peru’s Alberto Fujimori pioneered less violent, more covert, and more effective methods of monopolizing power. They cultivated an image of competence, concealed censorship, and used democratic institutions to undermine democracy, all while increasing international engagement for financial and reputational benefits. The book reveals why most of today’s authoritarians are spin dictators—and how they differ from the remaining “fear dictators” such as Kim Jong-un and Bashar al-Assad, as well as from masters of high-tech repression like Xi Jinping. Offering incisive portraits of today’s authoritarian leaders, Spin Dictators explains some of the great political puzzles of our time—from how dictators can survive in an age of growing modernity to the disturbing convergence and mutual sympathy between dictators and populists like Donald Trump.
Can coercive foreign policy destabilize autocratic regimes? Can democracy be promoted from abroad? This book examines how foreign policy tools such as aid, economic sanctions, human rights shaming and prosecutions, and military intervention influence the survival of autocratic regimes. Foreign pressure destabilizes autocracies through three mechanisms: limiting the regime's capacity to maintain support; undermining its repressive capacity; and altering the expected utility of stepping down for political elites. Foreign Pressure and the Politics of Autocratic Survival distinguishes between three types of autocracies: personalist rule, party-based regimes, and military dictatorships. These distinct institutional settings influence the dictators' strategies for surviving in power as well as the propensity with which their leaders are punished after a regime transition. Consequently, the influence of foreign pressure varies across autocratic regime types. Further, the authors show that when foreign coercion destabilizes an autocracy, this does not always lead to democratic regime change because different regimes breakdown in distinct ways. While democratization is often equated with the demise of autocratic rule, it is just one possible outcome after an autocratic regime collapses. Many times, instead of democratization, externally-induced regime collapse means that a new dictatorship replaces the old one. This theory is tested against an extensive analysis of all dictatorships since 1946, and historical cases which trace the causal process in instances where foreign policy tools helped oust dictatorships. Oxford Studies in Democratization is a series for scholars and students of comparative politics and related disciplines. Volumes concentrate on the comparative study of the democratization process that accompanied the decline and termination of the cold war. The geographical focus of the series is primarily Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern and Eastern Europe, and relevant experiences in Africa and Asia. The series editor is Laurence Whitehead, Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
' Charles Dunst's deeply researched, timely and powerful book offers a blueprint for how democracies should fight back.' - Sir Kim Darroch 'Remarkable. A thoughtful and perceptive book.' - Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt, MP The world is currently experiencing the lowest levels of democracy we have seen in over thirty years. Autocracy is on the rise, and while the cost of autocracy seems evident, it nevertheless remains an attractive option to many. While leaders like Viktor Orbán disrupt democratic foundations from within, autocrats like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin do so from abroad, eroding democratic institutions and values and imperilling democracies that appear increasingly fragile. There are even those who, disillusioned with the current institutions in place, increasingly think authoritarianism can deliver them a better life than democracy has or could. They're wrong. Autocracy is not the solution - better democracy is. But we have to make the case for it. We have to combat institutional rot by learning from one another, and, at times, from our rivals. And we have to get our own houses in order. Only then can we effectively stand up for democratic values around the world and defeat the dictators.