How Former Authoritarian Elite Spread Across Government Impacts the Quality of Democracy

55 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2019

See all articles by Michael Albertus

Michael Albertus

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Mark Deming

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 15, 2019

Abstract

When authoritarian-era elites return to positions of power under democracy, what are the implications for the quality of democracy? We investigate this question in this paper using an original dataset that tracks former authoritarian elites’ capture of high-level posts under democracy across Latin America from 1900 to 2015. We find that when authoritarian-era elites capture a wide range of posts across disparate government branches, such “elite dispersion” undercuts not only the overall quality of democracy but also specific dimensions of democracy such as accountability, openness of competition, breadth of inclusion, and egalitarianism. These results are robust to prominent alternative explanations of the quality of democracy – in particular, explanations that underscore the importance of formal organizations and institutions such as autonomous militaries, dominant political parties, and holdover autocratic constitutions. Elite dispersion matters for the quality of democracy even after controlling for these more visible channels of former authoritarian elite influence.

Keywords: authoritarianism, democracy, elites

Suggested Citation

Albertus, Michael and Deming, Mark, How Former Authoritarian Elite Spread Across Government Impacts the Quality of Democracy (October 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3481267 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3481267

Michael Albertus (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Mark Deming

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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