Vanessa Boese, Staffan Lindberg, Martin Lundstedt, Yuko Sato, Kelly Morrison | 2022

Institutional Order in Episodes of Autocratization

in: V-Dem Working Paper 133

Are there patterns in the sequences of institutional change when democracies autocratize? If so, are such patterns distinct for democracies that transition to authoritarianism versus those that avert democratic breakdown? The Episodes of Regime Transformation (ERT) dataset provides a global sample of all 69 autocratization episodes between 1900-2021. Using this data and pairwise domination analysis, we describe the general order of reforms in 31 variables which make up different types of accountability mechanisms constraining the government. Our findings suggest that institutional decay starts with horizontal accountability, followed by declines in diagonal accountability, and, finally, vertical accountability. This pattern becomes more apparent in countries with low democratic stock and during the third wave of autocratization. This study makes strong contributions to a growing academic literature on patterns of autocratization as well as initiatives among policymakers and practitioners to counteract autocratization.

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