This article reviews the burgeoning literature on democratic authoritarianism, which examines two related but distinct questions: why authoritarian regimes adopt institutions conventionally associated with democracy, and how these institutions strengthen authoritarian regimes and forestall democratization. The literature suggests that authoritarian regimes adopt and utilize nominally democratic institutions to augment their strength through five main mechanisms: signaling, information acquisition, patronage distribution, monitoring, and credible commitment. After evaluating each of these mechanisms, I discuss the empirical challenges facing this research agenda and suggest how the field should proceed to overcome these challenges.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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