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Alternative patterns to electoral autocracy: recognizing diversity in contemporary autocratization processes

By Luca Tomini with Claudio Balderacchi






The establishment of electoral autocracy through gradual and “electoral” means by democratically elected leaders has recently emerged as one of the most researched phenomena in comparative politics. The literature and some of the most widely discussed cases suggest that this process typically takes place on the basis of majoritarian levels of popular support, often combined with an anti-establishment narrative. In this article, we show that this representation fails to capture the diversity characterizing these transitions and that general conclusions on these processes may have been influenced by the analysis of only a part of existing cases. Through the analysis of the universe of cases since 2000 and using V-Dem ERT and V-Party data, first we show that widely discussed cases are not representative of gradual transitions to electoral autocracy and describe the existence of alternative patterns to electoral autocracy, including an overlooked pattern that is opposite to the more discussed majoritarian-anti-establishment path. Then, we discuss and provide preliminary evidence of how different patterns to electoral autocracy can influence the types of strategies adopted by incumbents, and, as a consequence, the elaboration of potential countermeasures to contemporary attacks on democracy.

Mis à jour le 20 juin 2024