Autocratization by Decree: States of Emergency and Democratic Decline

38 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2020

See all articles by Anna Lührmann

Anna Lührmann

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science

Bryan Rooney

Carlos III-Juan March Institute of Social Sciences

Date Written: April 22, 2020

Abstract

States of emergency grant chief executives the power to bypass 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, states of emergency should be associated with a heightened risk of autocratization – a decline in a regime’s democratic attributes. Despite this theoretical link and the contemporary relevance of both autocratization and states of emergency, no prior study has empirically tested this relationship. This paper tests this relationship using data on sixty democracies for 1974 to 2016. We find that democracies are 75 percent more likely to erode under a state of emergency. This evidence strongly suggests that states of emergency circumvent democratic processes in ways that might inspire democratic decline.

Suggested Citation

Lührmann, Anna and Rooney, Bryan, Autocratization by Decree: States of Emergency and Democratic Decline (April 22, 2020). V-Dem Working Paper 85, 2nd Edition, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3582527 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3582527

Anna Lührmann (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - 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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