Book Review: The politics of Authoritarian Rule by Milan W. Svolik

A brilliant book. !!

Svolik in this masterly book lays down a theoretical framework defining authoritarian politics and rule. The book seeks to provide the answer as to what drives politics in a dictatorship, mentions its two fundamental conflicts (i.e of authoritarian power sharing and of authoritarian control) as well as its two fundamental problems (i.e the lack of any credible institution in enforcing agreement between the elites and the role violence plays in resolving conflicts).

While he quotes from the work of Barbara Geddes often who has done remarkable work on the theoretical construct of authoritarianism, he critiques her classification of regime types as not being either mutually exclusive or collectively exhaustive.

The book also lays down in detail the role of political parties and institutions in facilitating the stability of authoritarian regimes as well as the different kinds of role that military plays in a dictatorship. He also explains why authoritarian regimes based on single party rule are likely to survive longer than normal authoritarian regimes as is seen in the case of China.

To prove his hypothesis, the author builds various models based on game theory (some of which was dense probability and so slightly difficult for me to understand).

All in all a great read.


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