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Photo: “Berlin wall in front of Brandenburg Gate – 1989“, by Romtomtom, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Miller, Michael K. “Electoral authoritarianism and democracy: A formal model of regime transitions.” Journal of Theoretical Politics 25, no. 2 (2013): 153-181.


Building on the formal literature on democratization, this paper models a dictator’s choice between closed authoritarianism, electoral authoritarianism, and democracy in the shadow of violent revolt. Under autocracy, the dictator controls policy but lacks information on the policy demands of citizens and thus the likelihood of popular revolt. Electoral authoritarianism enables the dictator to tie policy choice to an electoral signal from citizens, which may be advantageous even if elections make revolt more likely to succeed. Implications are drawn for how economic inequality, regime strength, and uncertainty predict regime type, policy concessions, and political violence. A key result is that electoral authoritarianism is chosen for middle values of inequality and uncertainty.

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.