The Politics of Authoritarian Rule

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Cambridge University Press, Sep 17, 2012 - Political Science - 228 pages
2 Reviews
What drives politics in dictatorships? Milan W. Svolik argues that all authoritarian regimes must resolve two fundamental conflicts. First, dictators face threats from the masses over which they rule - this is the problem of authoritarian control. A second, separate challenge arises from the elites with whom dictators rule - this is the problem of authoritarian power-sharing. Crucially, whether and how dictators resolve these two problems is shaped by the dismal environment in which authoritarian politics takes place: in a dictatorship, no independent authority has the power to enforce agreements among key actors and violence is the ultimate arbiter of conflict. Using the tools of game theory, Svolik explains why some dictators, such as Saddam Hussein, establish personal autocracy and stay in power for decades; why leadership changes elsewhere 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. When assessing his arguments, Svolik complements these and other historical case studies with the statistical analysis of comprehensive, original data on institutions, leaders, and ruling coalitions across all dictatorships from 1946 to 2008.

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User Review  - bdtrump - LibraryThing

Svolik offers a diverse and global view of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes - and reads well. A quick and easy enough read for a student in the field. Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This book is utter garbage. When someone starts quantifying qualitative variables I feel like ripping the work to shreds. This is exactly what this entire book is composed of: Nothing more than abstract generalizations that have no basis whatsoever in mathematics, yet are presented parallel to a slew of complicated equations in order to establish some false sense of credibility. I'm not buying this bullshit. In short, this entire thing is a farce and should be avoided at all costs. 


The World of Authoritarian Politics
And Then There Was One Authoritarian PowerSharing and
When and Why Institutions Contribute to Authoritarian
Moral Hazard in Authoritarian Repression and the Origins
Why Authoritarian Parties? The Regime Party as an Instrument
Incentives and Institutions in Authoritarian

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About the author (2012)

Milan W. Svolik is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Svolik's articles on authoritarian politics, transitions to democracy, and democratic consolidation have appeared in leading political science journals, including the American Political Science Review and the American Journal of Political Science. His research interests include comparative politics, political economy and formal political theory.

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