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Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes (1st edn)

Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Natasha Lindstaedt, and Erica Frantz
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date: 21 July 2024

p. 1428. Autocratic Transitionslocked

p. 1428. Autocratic Transitionslocked

  • Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Andrea Kendall-TaylorDirector of the Transatlantic Security Program, Center for a New American Security
  • Natasha LindstaedtNatasha LindstaedtProfessor of Government, University of Essex
  •  and Erica FrantzErica FrantzAssistant Professor, Michigan State University


This chapter focuses on the pathways through which authoritarian regimes break down. Authoritarian regime exits fall into two general categories. Authoritarian regimes break down as a result of top-down processes initiated by regime insiders, such as military coups and elections. Authoritarian regimes also break down as a result of bottom-up pathways, including protests or insurgencies. The chapter then shows how the mode of regime failure influences a country's subsequent political trajectory. Some modes of exit like coups rarely lead to democratization, while other pathways, like peaceful protest, are more likely to usher in democracy. The chapter also discusses a different type of political transition: the departure of the regime's leader. It traces the pathways of authoritarian leader failure and explains how authoritarian leader exits influence the chance that the regime falls with the leader.

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