Authoritarian Reversals and Democratic Consolidation

45 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2007

See all articles by Milan Svolik

Milan Svolik

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 2007


I investigate the determinants and the process of authoritarian reversals and democratic consolidation. I employ a new empirical model that allows me to distinguish between two central dynamics: the likelihood that a democracy consolidates, and the timing of authoritarian reversals in democracies that are not consolidated. I demonstrate that existing democracies are a mixture of transitional and consolidated democracies rather than a single population. This approach leads to new insights into the causes of democratic consolidation that cannot be obtained with existing techniques. I find that the level of economic development, type of executive, and authoritarian past determine whether a democracy consolidates, but have no effect on the timing of reversals. That risk is only associated with economic recessions. I also find that the existing studies greatly underestimate the risk of early reversals while they simultaneously overestimate the risk of late reversals, and that a large number of existing democracies are in fact consolidated.

Keywords: democratic consolidation, transitions to democracy, split-population models, mixture survival models

Suggested Citation

Svolik, Milan, Authoritarian Reversals and Democratic Consolidation (January 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Milan Svolik (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

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