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Presidents Who Die Too Soon and Presidents Who Live Too Long. Term Limits and Succession in Presidential and Semi-Presidential Regimes

This cooperation project researches two important rules defining the presidential mandates, i.e. presidential term limits and succession rules, and their intersection in the presidential regimes of Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.
DAAD/PPP, 2019-2021


German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) | Koordination
Michael Alvarez
Leiv Marsteintredet
Åsgeir K. Rabben
University of Bergen

Research Questions

The main goal of this project is to explore synergies between the research teams working at the GIGA and the University of Bergen. By building a joint team that embraces a large regional and in-depth country expertise, this cooperation seeks, on the one hand, to enhance the quality of the two individual research agendas in terms of data collection and quality and, on the other hand, to refine existing theories and jointly contribute new theoretical knowledge on the intersection of two important rules defining the presidential mandates, i.e. presidential term limits and succession rules. This cooperation builds upon previous cooperation between the principal investigators, a collaboration that in fact started ten years ago with a NRC/DAAD funded project and led to several joint publications.

Contribution to International Research

This topic is highly relevant today when the world is experiencing a democratic backsliding. These new challenges to democracy often come from within rather than from outside the realm of civilian politics. Key to these processes are often incumbents' manipulation of both term limits and rules of succession. Combining the study of these two aspects of presidential regimes will allow us to explore better the mechanism and processes leading to democratic erosion. Curiously, while presidentialism and presidential powers are topics that have received a lot of scholarly attention, term limit rules and rules of succession are scarcely studied in conjunction. Although some large-N works already cover institutional reforms worldwide, specific country expertise is lacking on many cases, which is necessary for understanding causality and complexity in many of the cases where reforms of the two mentioned rules have been underway. The project aims to refine and add precision to existing data by bringing the two teams together.

Research Design and Methods

This project aims at strengthening academic cooperation between the two involved teams and institutions as well as to training young scholars in the research of political institutions in the Global South. The involved researchers produce context-sensitive research on political institutions in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, which expands and complements broad data indicators being used for quantitative purposes. Within the framework of the project, the research teams meet twice a year over two years in the two hosting institutions, where methodological questions are discussed along the substantive issues of the project.


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