When Dictators Die

Issue Date October 2016
Volume 27
Issue 4
Page Numbers 159-71
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Eleven of the world’s 55 dictators are 69 years old or older and are in varying stages of declining health. At first blush, this paints a hopeful picture for democracy scholars who have documented a slow but steady authoritarian resurgence. Yet this article reveals that the advanced age of 20 percent of the world’s autocrats offers little hope for a reversal of this trend. Rather than creating a space for change, the passing of these leaders will likely leave in place the resilient autocratic systems they created and reinforced. While most leadership transitions generate opportunities for regime change, this article demonstrates that death in office is not one of them.

About the Authors

Andrea Kendall-Taylor

Andrea Kendall-Taylor is senior fellow in and director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

View all work by Andrea Kendall-Taylor

Erica Frantz

Erica Frantz is associate professor of political science at Michigan State University.

View all work by Erica Frantz