The Fate of Former Authoritarian Elites Under Democracy
Forthcoming, Journal of Conflict Resolution
40 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 5, 2018
Why do some former authoritarian elites return to power after democratization through reelection or re-appointment to political office, or by assuming board positions in state-owned or major private enterprises, whereas others do not and still others face punishment? This paper investigates this question using an original dataset on constitutional origins and the fate of the upper echelon of outgoing authoritarian elites across Latin America from 1900-2015. I find that authoritarian elites from outgoing regimes that impose a holdover constitution that sticks through democratization are more likely to regain political or economic power –– especially through national positions where the potential payoffs are largest –– and less likely to face severe or nominal punishment. I also find a positive role for political capital among former elites. These results are robust to alternative explanations of authoritarian elites’ fate and using instrumental variables to address potential endogeneity. The findings have important implications for democratic consolidation and quality.
Keywords: dictatorship, democratization, elite fate, constitutions
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