Democratic Transitions and Authoritarian Persistence


Our fourth and final research area is devoted to democratic transitions and authoritarian persistence. Despite the unprecedented triumph of liberal democracy in the 20th century, authoritarian rulers still dominate many countries. The developments in Sudan after the fall of long-term dictator al-Bashir illustrate the challenges of democratization processes. The fall of a dictator does not necessarily lead to the establishment of functioning democratic institutions. In several projects, we analyze which factors influence whether democratization succeeds and under which circumstances autocrats can remain in power. Among other things, we investigate the role of mass mobilization and civil society in democratization processes and autocrats' responses to dissent. Furthermore, we are working on measuring democratization and autocratization processes to make these phenomena more amenable to quantitative analysis. Thereby, we aim to contribute to a better understanding of the onset and outcome of regime transformations.

Main content

How to Build Democracy after Authoritarian Breakdown: Insights from a Mixed Methods Approach
Researchers: Sebastian Hellmeier, Jean Lachapelle and Anna Lührmann
Related writing including working papers: How to Build Democracy after Authoritarian Breakdown: Insights from a Mixed Methods Approach

Regime Transformation From Below: Mobilization for Democracy and Autocracy From 1900 to 2020 
Researchers: Sebastian Hellmeier, Michael Bernhard and Anna Lührmann

State Concessions and Protest Duration in Authoritarian Regimes 
Researchers: Sebastian Hellmeier, and Elena Leuschner

Tourism and the prospects of democratization
Researchers: Sebastian Hellmeier

Project Management
October 2020 - September 2025