Works on the 1848 revolutions, 1989 collapse of European communism, 1998–2005 postcommunist color revolutions, and 2011 Arab uprisings frequently cross-reference each other, implying what is called here the concept of a “regime change cascade.” Research on these “Big Four” events shows that cascading can occur in protest calling for regime change as well as revolution in the name of regime change, but these rarely lead to actual regime change. Regime change cascades can occur through demonstration effects and active mediation, although common external causes and contemporaneous domestic triggers can cause events outwardly resembling them. Regime change cascades tend to occur where () there exists a common frame of political reference, () unpopular leaderships are becoming lame ducks; () elites lack other focal points for coordinated defection, and () structural conditions supporting a new regime type are in place. Cascading to hybrid regimes or autocracy may be more likely than cascading to democracy.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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