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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Term Limits and Succession Rights in Autocratic Regimes

Comparative Politics
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Anna Fruhstorfer
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Panel Discussant
Philipp Koeker
Universität Hannover

05/09/2019 11:00 - 12:40
Building: (Building C) Faculty of Law, Administration & Economics Floor: 4th floor Room: 403
When do autocratic leaders respect constitutional norms, in particular regarding presidential term limits and under what circumstances do they change constitutions to better fit their goals? To engage with these broad research questions, this panel brings together a group of scholars that approach these questions about the role and impact of presidential term limits from different regional and methodological perspectives. In particular, we aim to understand what role the respect or disrespect for constitutionally fixed presidential term limits has on the consolidation of the inner circle of the regime and on the cooptation or exclusion of oppositional forces in autocracies. Research has offered different ideas to situate the role of term limits outside democratic settings and their impact on the respective regime trajectory, among them for example Albertus and Menaldo (2012), Meng (2017) as well as Ginsburg, Elkins and Melton (2012). To follow up on the work of these authors, the panelists will approach the topic by linking the recently revived discussion on authoritarian regimes not as a transitional deficient state, but as a stable emerging model with the constitutional foundations laid for executive dominance. By presenting individual case studies as well as comparative studies in different world regions, the individual papers will try to show when autocratic leaders “reinvented” or changed constitutional norms or when they allowed for a succession and what impact this had on regime stability, public support and legitimacy.


Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. “Dictators as founding fathers? The role of constitutions under autocracy.” Economics & Politics 24, no. 3 (2012): 279–306.
Ginsburg, Tom, Zachary Elkins, and James Melton. “Do Executive Term Limits Cause Constitutional Crisis?” In Comparative Constitutional Design. Edited by Tom Ginsburg, 350–79. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Meng, Anne. “When Do Autocrats Share Power? A Theory of Party Institutionalization and Leader Strength: Working Paper.” Accessed 16-Mar-17.

Paper List

Title Details
The Head of State and the Politics of Constitutional Amendment in Francophone Africa: The Case of Senegal View Paper Details
The Political Implications of Popular Support for Presidential Term Limits in Russia View Paper Details
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