Interrupted presidencies in third wave democracies

Young Hun Kim, Donna Bahry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Since 1974, popularly elected presidents in a number of Third Wave democracies have resigned or been removed from office, casting doubt on classic assumptions about the inflexibility of presidential terms. Accounting for this pattern of interruptions has been difficult, however, since some cross-national studies rely on limited samples and some yield conflicting results. We reexamine the sources of presidential interruptions in new democracies from 1974 through 2003. We find several factors that increase presidential vulnerability: lack of partisan resources in congress, a low share of the first-round vote, an imbalance in presidential power, a declining economy, and public mobilization against the incumbent. We also find that presidential survival is separate from democratic survival in most regions of the world. Presidents may fall, but democratic governments usually continue. Democratically elected presidents in sub-Saharan Africa, however, tend to be removed by force, with the result that democracy itself is more likely to be suspended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-822
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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