A Theory of Autocratic Transition by Government Leaders
This paper aims at contributing to a better understanding of the conditions of self-enforcing democracy by analyzing the recent wave of autocratic transitions. Based on a game-theoretic framework, we work out the conditions under which governments may induce the diverse public authorities to coordinate on extra-constitutional activities, eventually transforming the politico-institutional setting into one of autocratic rule. We find three empirically testable characteristics that promote this coordination process, namely: populism and public support, corruption, and a lack in the separation of powers. By contrast, low degrees of corruption and strongly separated powers can be viewed as prerequisites to self-enforcing democracy.
self-enforcing democracy; political regimes; autocratic transition