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Opinion

Why Autocrats Love Emergencies

January 14, 2019

Crises are a time-tested means of subverting democracy.


From Getúlio Vargas and other better-known dictators in the 1930s to Indira Gandhi and Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and on to Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan more recently, autocratic-minded leaders have long used national emergencies — some real, some fabricated — to claim extraordinary powers. One of our greatest concerns about Donald Trump’s presidency has always been that he would exploit (or invent) a crisis in order to justify an abuse of power. Recent events have given this concern new immediacy.

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About the Author

Daniel Ziblatt

Daniel Ziblatt

Eaton Professor of the Science of Government & Acting Director (Spring 2019)

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