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Chapter

This chapter examines authoritarianism, providing a framework for understanding authoritarian regimes. Although all autocracies share a disregard for competitive elections and pluralism, the structural differences between them are vast. The chapter begins by discussing totalitarian regimes. Scholars developed theories of totalitarianism to take account of the new type of dictatorship that emerged in Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under Stalin. This research represents some of the earliest efforts to disaggregate autocracy. Political science research subsequently built on these early efforts, and scholars developed a number of ways to distinguish between different types of authoritarian systems. The chapter then presents a categorical framework for understanding differences across autocracies based on whether political power and decision-making reside with a single individual (personalist dictatorship), a party (single party dictatorship), the military (military regimes), or a royal family (monarchic dictatorship). Some dictatorships combine elements of more than one of these categories.

Chapter

24. South Korea  

Strong State, Successful Development

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter examines South Korea’s developmental state emerging from an authoritarian political base, toward its democratic openings in the 1990s. In 1945, the Korean peninsula was freed from Japanese colonial rule by the United States and the Soviet Union. It was divided into two states: communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea. Since then, South Korea has emerged as one of the success stories of economic development, with the state itself playing a major role. The chapter first considers the historical sources of South Korea’s national strength before discussing the Korean developmental state, focusing on dictatorship and national restoration. It then explores South Korea’s development policies and its transition to democracy, noting the persistence of corruption in the country despite democratic consolidation. It concludes with an assessment of the problems and challenges facing South Korea after achieving economic development over the past sixty years.

Chapter

Aníbal Pérez-Liñán

This chapter examines the key features of modern democracy, as well as its origins. It first explains what democracy means in the field of comparative politics, before discussing different models of democracy, including presidential democracy, parliamentary democracy, and democracies oriented towards consensus or majoritarian rule. It then describes the conditions—economic and political, domestic, and international—that allow some countries to become democratic but preserve others under the rule of dictatorships. In particular, it analyses the variables that facilitate the democratization of dictatorships and the factors that place democracies at risk of becoming authoritarian regimes. Finally, it reflects on the future of democracy and looks at the challenges that lie ahead for new generations of citizens.

Chapter

Natasha Lindstaedt

For many years, the concept of an authoritarian regime was considered to be one large category, with little understanding of how these regimes differed. The study of authoritarian regimes has come a long way since. Though all authoritarian regimes share in common that there is no turnover in power of the executive, there are considerable differences that distinguish autocracies. Authoritarian regimes today are increasingly attempting to use ‘democratic’ institutions to prolong their rule. This has led to a rise in competitive authoritarian regimes, or hybrid regimes. In spite of these changes, authoritarian regimes are more robust than ever. This chapter explains the different ways in which authoritarian regimes are categorized. The chapter then explains how the different types of authoritarian regimes perform, and what factors make them more durable. As the chapter demonstrates, autocratic regimes have become increasingly better equipped to maintain themselves.

Chapter

This chapter reviews the latest research showing how regime type affects a host of outcomes of interest. It explains why democratic decline matters, examining the effects of democracy on a state's conflict propensity, levels of terrorism, economic growth, human development, corruption, and human rights. The chapter then highlights two key takeaways from the research on the consequences of regime type. First, hybrid regimes, or those countries that sit in the middle of the autocracy–democracy spectrum, perform less well than either their fully democratic or fully authoritarian counterparts in a number of areas. Second, research suggests that democracies outperform dictatorship on almost every indicator examined. Ultimately, the academic record demonstrates that even after one sets democracy's intrinsic value aside, government is better when it is more democratic. Although democratic decision-making can be slower, this process is more likely to weigh risks, thereby avoiding volatile and ruinous policies.

Chapter

This chapter identifies sources of authoritarian durability. To maintain a firm grip on power, authoritarian regimes must maintain some support among three primary constituencies: the elite, the opposition, and the broader public. After discussing the relationship of these groups to regime durability, the chapter outlines the two primary strategies that autocracies use to maintain control—repression and co-optation—and the benefits and risks of each. Repression is defined as a form of socio-political control used by authorities against those within their territorial jurisdiction to deter specific activities and beliefs perceived as threatening to political order. Dictatorships have also learned to use political institutions—namely elections, political parties, and legislatures—to co-opt their opponents. The chapter then highlights other factors that research has shown to enhance regime durability, including regime type, state capacity, a country's access to natural resource wealth, and whether the regime was born out of a revolutionary struggle.

Chapter

This chapter evaluates those ambiguous systems that mix democratic characteristics with authoritarian tendencies. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a substantial rise in the number of these hybrid regimes. In fact, hybrid regimes have proliferated to such an extent that scholars contend they are now ‘the modal type of political regime in the developing world’. The chapter then maps the terrain between democracy and dictatorship. The goal is to highlight the wide variety of political systems today and underscore the rather astonishing frequency with which contemporary authoritarian regimes possess seemingly democratic features. The chapter identifies the different types of hybrid systems that occupy this middle ground—focusing on electoral democracy, competitive authoritarianism, and hegemonic authoritarianism—and defines their key characteristics. It also examines why hybrid systems have become more common in the post-Cold War era.

Book

Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Natasha Lindstaedt, and Erica Frantz

Chapter

This chapter assesses culture as a driver of democracy. Despite the popularity of cultural theories of democracy, there is little empirical evidence to support them. The chapter highlights that although research does not support the notion that cultural factors cause democratization, there is some evidence indicating that culture—as expressed through values, attitudes, and beliefs—affects the persistence of stable democracy. Once democracy has emerged, democracy is most likely to deepen and endure where elites gradually adopt a values-based commitment to the rules of the democratic game. Beyond culture, the chapter also examines several historical drivers of democracy. In particular, it focuses on the most widely discussed social and historical drivers in the academic literature, including state identity and boundaries, ethnic cleavages, and historical experience with democracy and dictatorship. For each of the drivers, the chapter considers how they influence both democratization and democratic consolidation.

Chapter

This chapter details the factors that increase the prospects of authoritarian regime failure. In-depth accounts of the downfall of specific authoritarian regimes show that it is most often a confluence of risk factors that bring down regimes. It is important to underscore that problems in dictatorships may persist for years without leading to breakdown. Authoritarian regimes can and often do persist in the face of elite divisions and defections, poor socio-economic conditions, corruption, and demographic challenges such as youth bulges. Such long-term factors increase a regime's risk of collapse by reducing a government's resilience to other short-term factors that often initiate its downfall. These short-term ‘triggering events’ include economic crises, fraudulent elections, and natural disasters. The chapter then considers how external forces—such as foreign aid, sanctions, and diffusion—can cause authoritarian breakdown.