Authoritarianism’s Last Line of Defense

Issue Date January 2010
Volume 21
Issue 1
Page Numbers 69-80
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The new stars in the constellation of nondemocratic governance are “electoral authoritarian” regimes, which conduct regular multiparty elections at all levels of government yet violate basic democratic standards in serious and systematic ways. These regimes represent the last line of authoritarian defense in a long history of struggle that has been unfolding since the invention of modern representative institutions. Rather than suppressing representative institutions altogether, or accepting only some of them, the new electoral authoritarian regimes of the post–Cold War era have embraced them all. Authoritarian rulers may deploy a wide range of strategies to keep control over their agents, as well as their adversaries, in various institutional arenas.