Personalism: A type or characteristic of authoritarian regimes?
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This paper takes a closer look at those authoritarian political regimes with a leader holding absolute power referred to as either 'personalist' or 'neo-patrimonial regimes'. In the literature, these regimes have been set apart since they exhibit a different behavior than their counterparts that are not under personal rule. This paper proposes another approach and aims to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of such regimes not being treated as a separate type, but analyzed with regard to their personalist element as a characteristic that can be present in various autocratic types. Firstly, this paper gives an overview of the characteristics of personalism and the dynamics by which autocrats acquire such amounts of personal power. Secondly, to provide data for the question at hand, the author links medium-N quantitative datasets of regimes in Sub-Saharan Africa (1972–2010). By linking insights from Hadenius & Teorell, Bueno de Mesquita, Geddes and many other prominent scholars who have contributed to political regime theory, the author investigates the various sources of personalist regimes in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to answer the research question.
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