Autocratic Ruling Parties During Regime Transitions: Investigating the Democratizing Effect of Strong Ruling Parties
46 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 2020
This study examines the role of autocratic ruling party strength in democratic transitions. While the impact of ruling party strength on regime stability is extensively studied, we know much less about when and why ruling party strength can facilitate democratization during regime transitions. Proceeding from recent studies that suggest autocratic incumbents often choose to democratize from a position of strength rather than weakness, I discuss how specific attributes strong ruling party organizations wield can provide autocratic incumbents with incentives and capabilities to lead democratization in the context of regime change. Using an original data on organizational characteristics of 161 autocratic ruling parties between 1970 and 2015, I provide the first set of systematic empirical evidence supporting the argument that ruling party organizational features that promote regime durability can simultaneously facilitate the implementation of substantial democratizing reforms by regime elites in a top-down fashion to preempt political opposition.
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