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Argentine flag: Argentina flag by Qu1m licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED. Hue modified from the original.


This article presents a novel argument about what enables democracies to survive when executives attempt to weaken institutional constraints. We argue that democracies erode because (1) an illiberal executive attempts to undermine democracy and (2) this executive commands a majority in the national legislature. Democracies survive if the executive is not deeply illiberal or if the opposition controls a majority of the national legislature. The empirical section presents data about executive illiberalism and the balance of power in the national legislature for thirteen Latin American presidents. We test our argument in four negative cases (episodes) in Argentina since 1983. We use primary sources including 125 original interviews to explain how two presidents who attempted to centralize power fell short of eroding democracy

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.