Why are some electoral authoritarian regimes immune to democratization for decades while others not? This article explores the impact of executive selection systems on democratic transitions from electoral authoritarianism. We argue that under electoral authoritarian regimes, Parliament-based systems permit dictators to more effectively deter democratization compared to Presidential systems. This is because Parliament-based systems indirectly allow electoral manipulation to achieve a victory at the ballot box, such as through gerrymandering and malapportionment. Parliament-based systems also make it difficult for opposition parties to coordinate and incentivize autocrats and ruling elites to engage in power-sharing and thus institutionalize ruling parties. We test our hypothesis as well as the underlying mechanisms employing a dataset of 93 electoral authoritarian countries between 1946 and 2012. Cross-national statistical analyses with instrumental variables estimation provide supporting evidence for our theory.
ASJC Scopus subject areas