Memories of a Despot -- Historical Antecedents for Executive Constraints
Dimitrov Gueorguiev-- Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University
Abstract: What are the historical determinants of comparative executive constraints? In this paper, I explore memory of tyranny, i.e., the shared experience of having lived and survived under tyranny, as one plausible determinant. I expect executive constraints to be stronger when state institutions are formulated shortly after a reign of personalistic despotism, when collective memories of tyranny are fresh. I evaluate the proposition in two ways. First, I employ crossnational panel data on authoritarian regimes to compare executive constraints following the end of an authoritarian administrations. I find that constraints increase more following the end of a personalist tyranny than for other forms of authoritarian rule. Second, I narrow my scope to post-colonial regimes, comparing executive constraints in directly vs. indirectly colonized states. I find that post-colonial executive constraints tend to be stronger in indirectly ruled colonies, where colonial oppression was exercised by a local, homegrown tyrant rather than a foreign viceroy. I complement the quantitative analysis with illustrative case studies and survey data on public opinion.
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