Date & Time
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Michael Albertus discusses his new book "Authoritarianism and the Elite Origins of Democracy." He will be joined in conversation by Dan Slater. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.
Presented in partnership with the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago
At the Co-op
About the book: This book argues that - in terms of institutional design, the allocation of power and privilege, and the lived experiences of citizens - democracy often does not restart the political game after displacing authoritarianism. Democratic institutions are frequently designed by the outgoing authoritarian regime to shield incumbent elites from the rule of law and give them an unfair advantage over politics and the economy after democratization. "Authoritarianism and the Elite Origins of Democracy" systematically documents and analyzes the constitutional tools that outgoing authoritarian elites use to accomplish these ends, such as electoral system design, legislative appointments, federalism, legal immunities, constitutional tribunal design, and supermajority thresholds for change. The study provides wide-ranging evidence for these claims using data that spans the globe and dates from 1800 to the present. Albertus and Menaldo also conduct detailed case studies of Chile and Sweden. In doing so, they explain why some democracies successfully overhaul their elite-biased constitutions for more egalitarian social contracts.
About the author: Michael Albertus is an Assistant Professor of Political Science. His research interests include redistribution, democracy and dictatorship, clientelism, and civil conflict. His first book, "Autocracy and Redistribution," was published by Cambridge University Press and won the Luebbert Prize for the best book in comparative politics published in 2014 or 2015 and the 2017 LASA Bryce Wood Award for the best book on Latin America in the social science and humanities. Albertus' most recent book, "Authoritarianism and the Elite Origins of Democracy," rethinks the origins of many of the world's democracies. This book systematically demonstrates that democratic institutions are often designed by the outgoing authoritarian regime, and examines how these institutions continue to guide political life long periods even when they favor elites over the majority of citizens.
About the interlocutor: Dan Slater (Ph.D. Emory, 2005) specializes in the politics and history of enduring dictatorships and emerging democracies, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia. His book examining how divergent historical patterns of contentious politics have shaped variation in state power and authoritarian durability in seven Southeast Asian countries, entitled "Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia," was published in the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series in 2010.