Turbulence in Transition? Authoritarian Leader Succession and Civil Conflict

Posted: 30 Jan 2014

Date Written: January 29, 2014


The relationship between leadership change and conflict behavior figures prominently in the international relations literature. Lesser studied from a cross-national perspective, however, is the effect of leadership succession on civil unrest. How does leadership succession affect the propensity for domestic turbulence? I examine the effect of leadership change on levels of political unrest and instability through an analysis of executive leadership changes from 1950 to 2008. The findings indicate that state institutions, specifically authoritarian regime type and the presence of formal succession procedures, as well as the manner by which leaders change influence post-succession unrest. Both regular and irregular means of succession increase the propensity for turmoil, the latter to a greater extent, while formal succession procedures alleviate this risk. Personalized regimes are most vulnerable to domestic disorder as leaders change, though the distinction between military and civilian regimes has an important effect on the forms of disorder that are likely.

Keywords: leader succession, authoritarian regimes, contentious politics, political unrest

Suggested Citation

Spath, Andrew, Turbulence in Transition? Authoritarian Leader Succession and Civil Conflict (January 29, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2387372

Andrew Spath (Contact Author)

Rutgers University ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://andrewspath.com

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics