The New Institutionalism in the Study of Authoritarian Regimes

29 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 27 Aug 2009

See all articles by Andreas Schedler

Andreas Schedler

Central European University (CEU) - Democracy Institute

Date Written: 2009


In recent years, we have seen the rise of a “new institutionalism” in the study of authoritarian regimes that takes seriously previously neglected pillars of non-democratic governance: nominally democratic institutions, such as legislatures, multiple parties, and elections, that form integral parts of most authoritarian regimes. Drawing together previously disconnected pieces of research, the paper provides an analytical topography of new institutionalist studies of dictatorship. It discusses four central issues: (a) institutional imperatives: the fundamental challenges authoritarian institutional designers address, (b) institutional landscapes: the fundamental institutional choices authoritarian rulers face, (c) institutional containment: the strategies of control they may deploy in various institutional arenas, and (d) institutional ambivalence: the tension between regime-supporting and regime-subverting roles authoritarian institutions tend to introduce.

Keywords: authoritarianism, political regimes, political institutions, institutionalism

Suggested Citation

Schedler, Andreas, The New Institutionalism in the Study of Authoritarian Regimes (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Andreas Schedler (Contact Author)

Central European University (CEU) - Democracy Institute ( email )


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