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From the Publisher"Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Postcommunist Countries is magisterial in its scope and ambition. This is a rich study that provides a fascinating account of the electoral dynamics in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes, and attends to the complexities of these events. It is an important contribution to the literature on regime durability and collapse."
- Anna Grzymala-Busse, University of Michigan
"Defeating Authoritarian Leaders makes two major contributions to the study of democratization. First, it fills a hole in the literature on international diffusion by identifying clear mechanisms through which diffusion takes place. It also shows how key actors-including authoritarian governments, opposition groups, transnational activist networks, and U.S. government agencies-mediate the diffusion process, facilitating it in some cases and inhibiting it in others. Second, the book provides the most sophisticated theorization to date of the emerging 'electoral model' of regime change. Taking us beyond current debates over whether elections reinforce or undermine authoritarian rule, Bunce and Wolchik draw on a wealth of empirical evidence to show when and how opposition activists can take advantage of electoral processes to defeat authoritarian incumbents. This book will be important reading for both scholars of comparative politics and those interested in promoting democracy in the real world."
- Steven Levitsky, Harvard University
"This is a fascinating book by prominent scholars on an important topic. Among other striking achievements, Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Postcommunist Countries sets a new standard in research on the diffusion of democracy. Much recent literature on democratization has suggested diffusion effects, but few previous scholars had undertaken the challenging on-the-ground research to show that diffusion was taking place and to disentangle the mechanisms behind it."
- Scott Mainwaring, University of Notre Dame
"Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Postcommunist Countries is a major contribution to debates on regime transition. Bunce and Wolchik make the paradigmatic case that opposition creativity, innovation, and ambition are central to successful democratization. The book also offers a refreshing take on democratic diffusion. Contra the 'high altitude' approach taken by so many studies, this book, based on primary research in at least 11 countries, shows us exactly how diffusion takes place and the array of domestic and external actors who play a critical role in its success or failure. This book will be of enormous interest to scholars of democratization and essential reading for those concerned with strengthening democratic institutions in the world today."
- Lucan A. Way, University of Toronto