When Democracy has a Fever: States of Emergency As a Symptom and Accelerator of Autocratization

30 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2019 Last revised: 28 Apr 2019

See all articles by Anna Lührmann

Anna Lührmann

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Bryan Rooney

Carlos III-Juan March Institute of Social Sciences

Date Written: March 1, 2019

Abstract

States of emergency grant chief executives the power to circumvent democratic constraints in order to combat existential threats. As such they are ideal tools to erode democratic institutions while maintaining the illusion of constitutional legitimacy. Therefore, it seems plausible that states of emergency are associated with a heightened risk of autocratization a decline in a regime's democratic attributes. Despite this link and the contemporary relevance of both autocratization and states of emergency, no prior study has empirically tested this relationship. This paper fills this gap using data on 60 democracies for 1974 to 2016. We find that democracies are 59% more likely to erode under a state of emergency. Like a fever, states of emergency are a potential symptom of a seriously ill democracy and they may accelerate democratic decay.

Suggested Citation

Lührmann, Anna and Rooney, Bryan, When Democracy has a Fever: States of Emergency As a Symptom and Accelerator of Autocratization (March 1, 2019). V-Dem Working Paper 2019:85. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3345155 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3345155

Anna Lührmann (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Göteborg, S-405 30
Sweden

Bryan Rooney

Carlos III-Juan March Institute of Social Sciences ( email )

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