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The Foundations of Limited Authoritarian Government: Institutions and Power-Sharing in Dictatorships


  • Boix, Carles

    (Princeton University)

  • Svolik, Milan

    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


Why do some dictatorships establish institutions that are typically associated with democracy, such as legislatures or political parties? We propose a new theoretical model of institutions and power-sharing in dictatorships. We argue that by facilitating power-sharing, political institutions promote the survival of dictatorships. However, authoritarian power-sharing through institutions is feasible only when it is backed by the crude but credible threat of a rebellion by the dictator's allies. Whereas the allies' political opportunities determine the credibility of the threat of a rebellion, institutions alleviate the commitment and monitoring problems that stem from the secrecy in authoritarian governance. We use both historical and large-N data to assess these new predictions about the relationship between political institutions, dictator tenure, and the concentration of power in dictatorships.

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  • Boix, Carles & Svolik, Milan, 2009. "The Foundations of Limited Authoritarian Government: Institutions and Power-Sharing in Dictatorships," Papers 10-21-2009b, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:prirpe:10-21-2009b

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    1. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    2. Wintrobe,Ronald, 1998. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521583299, August.
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