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  - thcson - LibraryThing

This book is at its best when the author discusses the problematic nature of dictatorial rule in general terms. The dictator's first problem stems from his lack of popular legitimacy: he has to ensure ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

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

Contents

Figures
1
Tables
18
The World of Authoritarian Politics
19
And Then There Was One Authoritarian PowerSharing and
53
When and Why Institutions Contribute to Authoritarian
85
Moral Hazard in Authoritarian Repression and the Origins
123
Why Authoritarian Parties? The Regime Party as an Instrument
162
Incentives and Institutions in Authoritarian
196
Bibliography
203
Index
223
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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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