Why new democracies vote authoritarians back into office


Why did so many Peruvians vote for Keiko Fujimori, the candidate of a party rooted in the former authoritarian regime of her father, Alberto Fujimori? She lost the June presidential election by a mere 0.2 percent, while her Fuerza Popular (Popular Force) party won over 50 percent of congressional seats, notes James Loxton, a lecturer in comparative politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.

In fact, the bigger surprise is that Fujimori’s party has not yet been elected back into office, he writes for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage:

My research shows that a majority of new democracies vote back into office parties that trace their origins to authoritarian regimes — what I call “authoritarian successor parties” (ASPs). Peru is unusual not because it has a strong ASP — but because this party has not yet returned to power.

ASPs are parties that emerge from authoritarian regimes — but that operate after a transition to democracy. Some ASPs are former ruling parties of party-based dictatorships, such as the Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico. Others are formed by high-level authoritarian officials shortly before or shortly after a transition to democracy, such as the People’s Party in Spain, created by former ministers of the Franco dictatorship. Another example is Nidaa Tounes in Tunisia, created after the Arab Spring by former authoritarian officials, including current President Beji Caid Essebsi.


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