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Dominant Power Politics

Dominant power politics refers to a semiauthoritarian political system in which one ruling party minimizes political competition while simultaneously enabling state-building reforms. It is a political system within the “gray zone” between a democracy and a dictatorship. This entry introduces the concept of dominant power politics by examining the dimensions of this political system, its key characteristics, and the challenges of ending dominant power regimes.

The Emergence of the Term

The term dominant power politics was first presented by Thomas Carothers in an article published in the Journal of Democracy in 2002. Carothers identified that most countries that were previously considered “transition countries”—that is, countries that were not dictatorial or autocratic but assumed to be moving toward democracies—were not necessarily in transition at all. Instead, he suggested ...

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