Arrangör/Organiser: The Institute of Latin American Studies and the Department of Political Science
Kontakt/Contact: Magnus Lembke
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Although military rule disappeared in Latin America after 1990, other forms of authoritarianism persisted. Competitive authoritarianism, in which democratic institutions exist but incumbent abuse skews the playing field against opponents, emerged in Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador during the post-Cold War period. This talk seeks to explain the emergence of competitive authoritarianism in the Andes in the 1990s and 2000s. It argues that populism – the election of a personalistic outsider who mobilizes voters with an anti-establishment appeal – is a major catalyst for the emergence of competitive authoritarianism. Lacking experience with representative democratic institutions, possessing an electoral mandate to destroy the existing elite, and facing institutions of horizontal accountability controlled by that elite, populists have an incentive to launch plebiscitary attacks on institutions of horizontal accountability. Where they succeed, weak democracies almost invariably slide into competitive authoritarianism.

Lecturer:

Steven Levitsky is a David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government at Harvard University. His research interests include political parties and party-building, authoritarianism and democratization, and weak and informal institutions, with a focus on Latin America. He is author of Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press 2003), co-author of Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), and co-editor of Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness (2005), Informal Institutions and Democracy: Lessons from Latin America (2006), The Resurgence of the Left in Latin America (2011), and Challenges of Party-Building in Latin America (2016). He is currently writing a book (with Lucan Way) on the durability of revolutionary regimes.

Commentator: 

Maria-Therese Gustafsson is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University. Prominent themes in her research are natural resource governance, political participation, and climate security. She holds a PhD from Stockholm University and her dissertation was awarded with ‘Högskoleföreningens’ prize for the best dissertation at the Faculty of Social Science, Stockholm University, in 2015. She has published a research monography Private Politics and Peasant Mobilization: Mining in Peru (Palgrave MacMillan), articles in Third World Quarterly, WIRE Climate Change, the Latin American Research Review and Canadian Journal of Development Studies, and has edited two anthologies. She has also been a visiting scholar at Cornell University.

Language: English

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