The Fate of Authoritarian Elites Under Democracy


  • Michael Albertus


Why do some former authoritarian elites face punishment for their misdeeds after democratic transition whereas others remain untouched or even end up being re-elected to political office, re-appointed in government, or on the boards of state-owned or major private enterprises? Drawing on a new dataset on the upper echelon of outgoing authoritarian elites in countries across Latin America over the last century, this project investigates for the first time why new democracies punish selected former authoritarian elites whereas others elide punishment entirely and even flourish under democracy.

Speaker Bio:

Michael Albertus is the 2015-16 W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow and the William C. Bark National Fellow. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His main research focus is on the political conditions under which governments implement egalitarian reforms.

His first book, Autocracy and Redistribution: The Politics of Land Reform, published by Cambridge University Press, examines why and when land reform programs are implemented. His second book project, Flawed by Design: Authoritarian Legacies Under Democracy, explores the role of outgoing authoritarian elite-designed institutions on democratic functioning. Other research interests include political regime transitions and stability, politics under dictatorship, clientelism, and civil conflict. Albertus' work has been published in the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Economics & Politics, Comparative Politics, World Development, International Studies Quarterly, and Latin American Research Review.