04 September 2010

Book: Political Institutions under Dictatorship

Jennifer Gandhi, "Political Institutions under Dictatorship" (Cambridge University Press, September 2008):


Publisher's description: "Often dismissed as window-dressing, nominally democratic institutions, such as legislatures and political parties, play an important role in non-democratic regimes. In a comprehensive cross-national study of all non-democratic states from 1946 to 2002 that examines the political uses of these institutions by dictators, Gandhi finds that legislative and partisan institutions are an important component in the operation and survival of authoritarian regimes. She examines how and why these institutions are useful to dictatorships in maintaining power, analyzing the way dictators utilize institutions as a forum in which to organize political concessions to potential opposition in an effort to neutralize threats to their power and to solicit cooperation from groups outside of the ruling elite. The use of legislatures and parties to co-opt opposition results in significant institutional effects on policies and outcomes under dictatorship."

Endorsements: "This book represents a major contribution to the resurgent study of non-democratic regimes. It is one of the first substantial pieces of modern social scientific analysis of the phenomenon, skillfully combining formal and quantitative cross-national analysis with country case studies. It will have a major impact in the study of modern authoritarian regimes." (Miriam A. Golden, UCLA)

"Her three kinds of dictatorship and two kinds of institutions produce a rich and informative empirical analysis in which she explains variation in the longevity, policy and performance of non-democratic governments." (William R. Keech, Carnegie Mellon University)

In 2009, the book won the triennial Award for Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Politics granted by the Research Committee on Concepts and Methods of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico City.

Jennifer Gandhi is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Emory University.

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