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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Recent studies of authoritarian durability highlight the role of institutions, particularly ruling parties. Yet party-based regimes vary markedly in their durability. Efforts to explain this variation have led scholars to examine the historical roots of strong authoritarian institutions. Drawing on recent historical institutionalist research, this chapter argues that robust authoritarian institutions frequently emerge out of periods of violent conflict. The chapter identifies two paths to durable authoritarianism: (1) a revolutionary path, in which disciplined liberation parties build (and penetrate) their own coercive apparatus and destroy the social and institutional bases for future opposition; and (2) a counter-revolutionary path, in which elites threatened by radical insurgencies agree to “protection pacts” that endow emerging autocrats with the authority and resources to build powerful party and coercive structures. The chapter also examines mechanisms of authoritarian reproduction, arguing that a challenge for historical institutionalism lies in identifying the conditions under which founding legacies end.

Keywords: authoritarianism, ruling parties, revolution, counter-revolution, bounded historical legacies

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