Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Competitive Authoritarianism
Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War

$109.00 (P)

Part of Problems of International Politics

  • Date Published: August 2010
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521882521

$ 109.00 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Competitive authoritarian regimes – in which autocrats submit to meaningful multiparty elections but engage in serious democratic abuse – proliferated in the post–Cold War era. Based on a detailed study of 35 cases in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and post-communist Eurasia, this book explores the fate of competitive authoritarian regimes between 1990 and 2008. It finds that where social, economic, and technocratic ties to the West were extensive, as in Eastern Europe and the Americas, the external cost of abuse led incumbents to cede power rather than crack down, which led to democratization. Where ties to the West were limited, external democratizing pressure was weaker and countries rarely democratized. In these cases, regime outcomes hinged on the character of state and ruling party organizations. Where incumbents possessed developed and cohesive coercive party structures, they could thwart opposition challenges, and competitive authoritarian regimes survived; where incumbents lacked such organizational tools, regimes were unstable but rarely democratized.

    • Introduces a new regime type, competitive authoritarianism, which proliferated in the 1990s and 2000s
    • Provides a new theoretical framework for understanding the international influences on democratization and shows how and why external democratizing pressure varies across countries and regions
    • Highlights the importance of state and party organizations in preserving authoritarian stability
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This landmark contribution to the comparative study of political regimes will be widely read and cited. In an epic act of theoretical synthesis, Levitsky and Way weave careful empirical research on three-dozen countries across five world regions into a convincing account of patterns of regime change. In distinguishing democratic transitions from a range of authoritarian outcomes, they reach nuanced conclusions about the relative explanatory influence of international factors (linkage and leverage) and domestic power politics (rulers versus oppositions). Above all, they help us understand how autocrats learn to live with elections. Strongly recommended."
    Michael Bratton, University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and African Studies, Michigan State University

    "This is a brilliant and truly pathbreaking book that should be closely studied by any serious student of democracy or comparative politics. Its precise conceptualization, striking theory, rigorous comparative methodology, and breathtaking range of case study evidence distinguish it as the most important study of political regimes and regime transitions in a generation."
    Larry Diamond, Stanford University

    "Competitive Authoritarianism establishes Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way as the Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan of their generation. In the tradition of Linz and Stepan, Levitsky and Way offer an abundance of theoretical and conceptual innovation as well as a trove of empirical material drawn from broad swaths of the globe. The book is as elegantly written as it is theoretically creative. It is written by and for professional social scientists; yet undergraduates and the attentive public will be able to digest the book’s central argument and findings with ease. This is what social science should look like."
    M. Steven Fish, University of California, Berkeley

    "This is the most anticipated book in comparative politics in more than a decade. Written in a single authorial voice, Levitsky and Way's arguments about the distinct trajectories of competitive authoritarian regimes are theoretically grounded, conceptually nuanced, geographically wide ranging, and empirically well supported. I expect this book to have a major impact on the field for many years to come."
    Marc Morjé Howard, Georgetown University

    "Levitsky and Way's book makes two major contributions to research on political regime change. First, by developing the notion of competitive authoritarianism, it engages in a sustained effort to provide a clear and theoretically fertile conception of a particular subset of political regimes belonging to the vague class of 'hybrid' regimes. Second, it offers the as yet most sophisticated and subtle effort to interweave domestic and international explanations of political regime change with provocative implications for run-of-the-mill theories, whether based on economic development, inequality, or institutions."
    Herbert Kitschelt, Duke University

    "Regimes that blend meaningful elections and illicit incumbent advantage are not merely resting points on the road to democracy; Levitsky and Way guide us along the multiple paths these regimes can take and provide powerful reasoning to explain why nations follow these distinct paths. This deeply insightful analysis of an important subset of post-Cold War regimes is conceptually innovative and precise, empirically ambitious, and theoretical agile, moving fluidly between international and domestic causes of regime dynamics. Read it to understand the dynamics of contemporary hybrid regimes; then read it again to appreciate its many lessons for our general understanding of regime change."
    David Waldner, University of Virginia

    "The authors deserve a place among the major innovators of comparative politics just for coining and elaborating the concept of competitive authoritarianism … The bulk of the book is devoted to careful description and analysis of the thirty-five cases. The authors' mastery of the massive literature is awe-inspiring. Thanks to this exhaustive literature review, the book can easily serve as a reference work on competitive authoritarianisms."
    Jan Kubik, Slavic Review

    "Levitsky and Way provide one of the most ambitious attempts at synthesis and large-scale case comparisons in recent years. Their volume encompasses thirty-five case studies, spanning the globe from Latin America to Africa, and then brings them all together into a parsimonious theoretical structure that emphasizes structural-institutional variables over rational choice explanations … Levitsky and Way have been trailblazers, opening an impressive path for deeper studies of electoral authoritarianism."
    Yonatan L. Morse, World Politics

    "Competitive Authoritarianism is one of those rare books that no student of comparative politics or international relations can afford to ignore. It is written so that, with a little guidance, it can be used in both introductory and upper-level courses in comparative politics at the undergraduate level. It is worth reading for the case studies alone, which serve as thumbnail sketches of the political histories of thirty-five countries between 1990 and 2008."
    David Art, Comparative Politics

    "[Levitsky and Way] have made a rich contribution to [a] growing body of literature. Among the many merits of their book is [their] effort to bring greater clarity to the concept they investigate."
    Ergun Özbudun, Turkish Review

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521882521
    • length: 536 pages
    • dimensions: 242 x 162 x 33 mm
    • weight: 0.86kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 20 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction and Theory:
    1. Introduction
    2. Explaining competitive authoritarian regime trajectories: international linkage and the organizational power of incumbents
    Part II. High Linkage and Democratization: Eastern Europe and the Americas:
    3. Linkage, leverage, and democratization in Eastern Europe
    4. Linkage, leverage, and democratization in Latin America and the Caribbean
    Part III. The Dynamics of Competitive Authoritarianism in Low Linkage Regions: The Former Soviet Union, Africa, and Asia:
    5. The evolution of post-Soviet competitive authoritarianism
    6. Africa: transitions without democratization
    7. Diverging outcomes in Asia
    8. Conclusion
    Appendix. Measuring competitive authoritarianism and authoritarian stability.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Authoritarianism
    • Comp Int'l Pol Dev
    • Comparative Democratization (graduate)
    • Comparative Political Analysis
    • Comparative Politics Nonwestern World
    • Democratic Political Systems
    • Democratic Transitions
    • Democratization and the Prospects for Peace and Properity in the Third World
    • Development Seminar
    • Eastern Europe
    • Elections and Politics in the Middle East
    • Emerging Democracies
    • Graduate Seminar in Political Development
    • Int'l Political Analysis
    • International Relations Post Cold War
    • Intro. to Comparative Politics
    • Introduction to Political Science
    • Modern Dictatorship
    • Politics Under Authoritarian
    • Post-Communism and New Democracies
    • Post-Soviet Security
    • Problems in Political Development
    • Promoting Democracy
    • Relations Among Communist and Post-Communist States
    • Rethinking Development: The Challenge of State Building
    • Seminar in Comparative Political Development
    • Seminar on Comparative Politics
    • Seminar: Comp Study Political Science
    • Social Change
    • Special Studies in Comparative Politics: New Democracies
    • US-East Asia Trade and Investment Policy
    • World Regional Geography
    • comparative parties and elections
  • Authors

    Steven Levitsky, Harvard University, Massachusetts
    Steven Levitsky is Professor of Government at Harvard University. His research interests include political parties, political regimes, and informal institutions, with a focus on Latin America. Professor Levitsky is author of Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (2003) and co-editor of Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness (2005) and Informal Institutions and Democracy: Lessons from Latin America (2006), and he is currently co-editing a volume on the rise of the Left in Latin America in the 2000s. He has published articles in the Annual Review of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, the Journal of Democracy, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Latin American Politics and Society, the Latin American Research Review, Party Politics, Perspectives on Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, and World Politics. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy.

    Lucan A. Way, University of Toronto
    Lucan Way is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His research interests include political regimes, fiscal and social reform, corruption, and post-communist politics. Professor Way is currently completing a book, Pluralism by Default: Sources of Political Competition in the Former Soviet Union, and has published articles in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Comparative Politics, East European Politics and Societies, the Journal of Democracy, the Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Politics and Society, Post-Soviet Affairs, Studies in Comparative and International Development, and World Politics, as well as several book chapters. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.