100 Iowa L. Rev. 1673 (2015) 
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Authoritarianism has been undergoing a metamorphosis. Historically, authoritarians openly repressed opponents by violence and harassment and subverted the rule of law to perpetuate their rule. The postCold War crackdown on these transparently authoritarian practices provided significant incentives to avoid them. Instead, the new generation of authoritarians learned to perpetuate their power through the same legal mechanisms that exist in democratic regimes. In so doing, they cloak repressive practices under the mask of law, imbue them with the veneer of legitimacy, and render anti-democratic practices much more difficult to detect and eliminate.

This Article offers a comprehensive cross-regional account of that phenomenon, which I term “stealth authoritarianism.” Drawing on rationalchoice theory, the Article explains the expansion of stealth authoritarianism across different case studies. The Article fills a void in the literature, which has left undertheorized the authoritarian learning that occurred after the Cold War and the emerging reliance on legal, particularly sub-constitutional, mechanisms to perpetuate political power. Although stealth authoritarian practices are more prevalent in nondemocracies, the Article illustrates that they can also surface in regimes with favorable democratic credentials, including the United States. In so doing, the Article aims to orient the scholarly debate towards regime practices, rather than regime types.

Friday, May 15, 2015