PODCAST | Life After Dictatorship: Authoritarian Successor Parties Worldwide

Why do people in new democracies vote for parties rooted in past dictatorships and what does it mean for the quality of democracy?

A surprising feature of democratisation in many countries is that large numbers of people, after gaining the right to choose their leaders through free and fair elections, vote for political parties with deep roots in dictatorship. This presentation examines the phenomenon of “authoritarian successor parties,” or parties that emerge from authoritarian regimes but that operate after a transition to democracy. They are major actors in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and have been voted back into office in a majority of new democracies since the late 1970s. To date, however, they have not received the attention that they deserve. Drawing on his recently published book, Life after Dictatorship: Authoritarian Successor Parties Worldwide (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Loxton asks: Why is it so common for these parties to exist and return to power, and what does it mean for democracy?

James Loxton is a Lecturer in Comparative Politics. His research interests include authoritarian regimes, democratization, and political parties, with a focus on Latin America. His work examines “authoritarian successor parties,” or parties that emerge from authoritarian regimes but that operate after a transition to democracy. He is the co-editor of Life after Dictatorship: Authoritarian Successor Parties Worldwide (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and Challenges of Party-Building in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2016). His current book project explores variation in conservative party-building in Latin America. He received his PhD (2014) and MA (2009) in Government from Harvard University and his BA (2006) in Politics from Princeton University.

Discussant
George Lawson is Associate Professor in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His theoretical work is oriented around the relationship between history and theory, with a particular interest in historical sociology. His empirical work ranges from the study of revolutions to the 19th century origins of contemporary international order. His books include: Global Historical Sociology, edited with Julian Go (Cambridge, 2017); The Global Transformation, with Barry Buzan (Cambridge, 2015); The Global 1989: Continuity and Change in World Politics, edited with Chris Armbruster and Michael Cox (Cambridge, 2010); and Negotiated Revolutions: The Czech Republic, South Africa and Chile (Ashgate, 2005). Lawson is currently completing a book entitled ‘Anatomies of Revolution’.

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