Authoritarian reversals and democratic consolidation

Milan Svolik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I present a new empirical approach to the study of democratic consolidation. This approach leads to new insights into the determinants of democratic consolidation that cannot be obtained with existing techniques. I distinguish between democracies that survive because they are consolidated and those democracies that are not consolidated but survive because of some favorable circumstances. As a result, I can identify the determinants of two related yet distinct processes: the likelihood that a democracy consolidates, and the timing of authoritarian reversals in democracies that are not consolidated. I find that the level of economic development, type of democratic executive, and type of authoritarian past determine whether a democracy consolidates, but have no effect on the timing of reversals in democracies that are not consolidated. That risk is only associated with economic recessions. I also find that existing studies greatly underestimate the risk of early reversals while simultaneously overestimating the risk of late reversals, and that a large number of existing democracies are in fact consolidated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-168
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Authoritarian reversals and democratic consolidation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this