How Dictators and Authoritarians Stay in Power

Just how do dictators stay in power, and many of them for decades? Professor James Tilley unpicks their complex strategies for survival in BBC Radio 4's Analysis programme.

Around four billion people live under some form of dictatorship. On average, dictators stay in power for 13 years. How are so many dictators able to stay in power for so long? And what should happen to them eventually? Using examples from Romania, Zimbabwe, Azerbaijan and Madagascar, Professor James Tilley and fellow academics scrutinise the different approaches, to come up with a hypothetical 'Dictators' Survival Guide', with chapters on control, elections, incentives and retirement.  

You can listen to The Dictator's Survival Guide and read more about how dictators survive. The Survival Guide will be broadcast again on BBC Radio 4 at 9.30 pm on Sunday 4 March 2018.

Professor James Tilley is Professor of Politics and Fellow of Jesus College