Power sharing and leadership dynamics in authoritarian regimes

Milan W. Svolik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I examine a fundamental problem of politics in authoritarian regimes: the dictator and the ruling coalition must share power and govern in an environment where political influence must be backed by a credible threat of violence. I develop a model of authoritarian politics in which power sharing is complicated by this conflict of interest: by exploiting his position, the dictator may acquire more power at the expense of the ruling coalition, which may attempt to deter such opportunism by threatening to stage a coup. Two power-sharing regimes, contested and established dictatorships, may emerge as a result of strategic behavior by the dictator and the ruling coalition. This theory accounts for the large variation in the duration of dictators' tenures and the concentration of power in dictatorships over time, and it contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of power sharing and accountability in authoritarian regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-494
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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