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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Measuring the Presidential Risk Factor: A Comment on Cheibub’s Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy

  • Author(s): Terry, William C.
  • et al.

I argue that the vision of “self-enforcing” democratization found in, for example, Przeworski (1992) and Acemoglou and Robinson (2007)—wherein democracy represents an organic balance of power between society’s actors, arrived at through a potentially long process of political give and take—is relevant for understanding an important difference between the modal democracies born during and after the Cold War. Given the logic of the self-enforcing democratization literature, and the evidence of an increased incidence of “electoral authoritarianism” in the Cold War period, I demonstrate that we should expect a much smaller estimated impact of the presidential risk factor after the Cold War than during it, even if presidentialism’s effect on breakdown remains constant.

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