Daniel Treisman, 26 November 2017

Most research on the transition to democracy tries to explain why autocrats choose to democratise. Based on two centuries of data on democratisation, this column argues, however, that autocratic rulers overwhelmingly create democracies by mistake. Taking these mistakes into account during analysis may improve the predictive or explanatory power of existing models.

Shaun Larcom, Mare Sarr, Tim Willems, 17 October 2013

The establishment of the International Criminal Court has increased the commitment of the international community to prosecute malevolent dictators. This column argues that such commitment creates perverse incentives that can provoke dictators to intensify violence in order to ‘blackmail’ international leaders into accepting a peace more favourable to the dictator.

Konstantin Sonin, 31 October 2008

Stalin’s mass killings are often viewed as the acts of a deranged dictator. But according to Konstantin Sonin of the New Economic School in Moscow, such violence may have reflected the Soviet leader’s rational efforts to avoid losing power. In an interview with Romesh Vaitilingam, recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008, he discusses his research and its implications for thinking about modern day dictators.

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