Measuring the consolidation of power in nondemocracies

Jennifer Gandhi, Jane Lawrence Sumner

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17 Scopus citations


Dictators come to power with the support of elites who are also capable of removing them from power. If autocrats successfully navigate this critical period, they are more likely to survive in power with time. Yet their persistence in office alone does not reveal how they have managed to survive. Survival in power is the result of two distinct arrangements. In one, power remains balanced between the leader and the elite, and in the other, leaders are able to marginalize their supporting elites, enabling them to concentrate power. To determine whether power is shared or consolidated, we must look more directly at the behavior of dictators: their actions toward personnel and institutions that can shift the balance of power between themselves and elites. We use an item response model to produce a time series cross-sectional measure of the leader’s concentration of power for all nondemocracies from 1946 to 2008.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1545-1558
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

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