Steven Levitsky

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Steven Levitsky
Steven Levitsky.jpg
Born (1968-01-17) January 17, 1968 (age 55)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley (Ph.D)
Stanford University (B.A.)
Known forCompetitive authoritarianism
Informal institutions
Scientific career
FieldsPolitical science
InstitutionsHarvard University (2000–Present)
Doctoral advisorDavid Collier

Steven Levitsky (born January 17, 1968) is an American political scientist and Professor of Government at Harvard University. A comparative political scientist, his research interests focus on Latin America and include political parties and party systems, authoritarianism and democratization, and weak and informal institutions.[1] He is notable for his work on competitive authoritarian regimes and informal political institutions.[2]

At Harvard, Levitsky also serves on the Executive Committees of both the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs[3] and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.[4]


Levitsky received a B.A. in political science from Stanford University in 1990 and a Ph.D, also in political science, from the University of California, Berkeley in 1999.[2]



After obtaining his Ph.D. in 1999, Levitsky was a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies.[5]

He joined Harvard University as Assistant Professor of Government in 2000. There, he went on to serve as the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences (2004-2008) before receiving tenure as Professor of Government in 2008.[2][5] At Harvard, Levitsky also sits on the Executive Committees of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.[3] Levitsky is an advisor to several student organizations, including the Harvard Association Cultivating Inter-American Democracy (HACIA Democracy)[6] and the POLITAI Civil Association at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru,[7] where he also taught as a visiting scholar.[8]


Levitsky is known for his work with Lucan Way on "competitive authoritarian" regimes, that is, hybrid government types in which, on the one hand, democratic institutions are generally accepted as the means to obtaining and exercising political power, but, on the other hand, incumbents violate the norms of those institutions so routinely, and to such an extent, that the regime fails to meet basic standards for democracy; under such a system, incumbents almost always retain power, because they control and tend to use the state to squelch opposition, arresting or intimidating opponents, controlling media coverage, or tampering with election results.[9] Writing about the phenomenon in 2002, Levitsky and Way named Serbia under Slobodan Milošević and Russia under Vladimir Putin as examples of such regimes.[10]

In 2018, Levitsky published How Democracies Die with fellow Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt. The book examines the conditions that can lead democracies to break down from within, rather than due to external events such as military coups or foreign invasions. How Democracies Die received widespread praise. It spent a number of weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list and six weeks on the non-fiction bestseller list of the German weekly Der Spiegel.[11] The book was recognized as one of the best nonfiction books of 2018 by the Washington Post, Time, and Foreign Affairs.[12] Levitsky and Ziblatt have also co-authored numerous opinion articles on American democracy in the New York Times.[13]

Levitsky is also an expert on the Nicaraguan revolution.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Liz Mineo, a Peruvian journalist graduated from National University of San Marcos and Columbia University, who currently works at The Harvard Gazette.[14] Levitsky lives with his wife and daughter in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is Jewish.[15]

Selected bibliography[16][edit]

Journal articles[edit]

2009. “Variation in Institutional Strength: Causes and Implications” (with María Victoria Murillo). Annual Review of Political Science. 12: 115-133.

2007. "Organizacion Informal de los Partidos en America Latina" [Informal Party Organization in Latin America] (with Flavia Freidenberg). Desarrollo Económico (Argentina) 46, No. 184: 539-568.

2007. “Linkage, Leverage and the Post-Communist Divide” (with Lucan A. Way). East European Politics and Societies 27, No. 21: 48-66.

2006. “The Dynamics of Autocratic Coercive Capacity after the Cold War” (with Lucan Way). Communist and Post-Communist Studies 39, No. 3: 387-410.

2006. “Organized Labor and Democracy in Latin America” (with Scott Mainwaring). Comparative Politics 39, No. 1 (October): 21-42.

2006. “Linkage versus Leverage: Rethinking the International Dimension of Regime Change” (with Lucan Way). Comparative Politics 38, No. 4 (July): 379-400.

2005. “International Linkage and Democratization” (with Lucan Way). Journal of Democracy. 16, No. 3 (July): 20-34.

2004. “Informal Institutions and Comparative Politics: A Research Agenda” (with Gretchen Helmke). Perspectives on Politics 2, No. 4 (December): 725-740.

2003. “Argentina Weathers the Storm” (with M. Victoria Murillo). Journal of Democracy 14, No. 4 (October): 152-166.

2003. “From Labor Politics to Machine Politics: The Transformation of Party-Union Linkages in Argentine Peronism, 1983-99.” Latin American Research Review 38, No. 3: 3-36. [Also published in Desarrollo Económico, Argentina]

2003. “Explaining Populist Party Adaptation in Latin America: Environmental and Organizational Determinants of Party Change in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela” (with Katrina Burgess). Comparative Political Studies 36, No. 8 (October): 859-880.

2003. “Democracy without Parties? Political Parties and Regime Change in Fujimori's Peru” (with Maxwell Cameron). Latin American Politics and Society 45, No. 3 (Fall): 1-33. [Also published in Instituciones y Desarrollo, Spain]

2002. “Elections Without Democracy: The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism” (with Lucan Way). Journal of Democracy 13, No. 2 (April): 51-66. [Also published in Estudios Políticos, Columbia, Vol. 24, July 2004]

2001. “Organization and Labor-Based Party Adaptation: The Transformation of Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective.” World Politics 54, No. 1 (October): 27-56.

2001. “Inside the Black Box: Recent Studies of Latin American Party Organizations.” Studies in Comparative International Development 36, No. 2 (summer): 92-110.

2001. “An ‘Organized Disorganization’: Informal Organization and the Persistence of Local Party Structures in Argentine Peronism.” Journal of Latin American Studies 33, No. 1 (February): 29-66. [Also published in Revista de Ciencias Sociales, Argentina, October 2001]

2000. “The ‘Normalization’ of Argentine Politics.” Journal of Democracy 11, No. 2 (April): 56-69.

1999. “Fujimori and Post-Party Politics in Peru.” Journal of Democracy 10, No. 3 (July): 78-92.

1998. “Crisis, Party Adaptation, and Regime Stability in Argentina: The Case of Peronism, 1989-1995.” Party Politics 4, No. 4: 445-470. [Also published in Revista de Ciencias Sociales, Argentina, September 1997]

1998. “Between a Shock and a Hard Place: The Dynamics of Labor-Backed Adjustment in Argentina and Poland” (with Lucan Way). Comparative Politics 30, No. 2 (January): 171-192.

1998. “Institutionalization and Peronism: The Case, the Concept, and the Case for Unpacking the Concept.” Party Politics 4, No. 1 (January): 77-92.

1997. “Democracy with Adjectives: Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research” (with David Collier), World Politics 49, No. 3 (April): 430-51. [Also published in Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, December 1997; Agora, Buenos Aires, January 1998; and La Politica, Barcelona, October 1998]

1991. “FSLN Congress: A Cautious First Step.” Journal of Communist Studies 7, No. 4 (December): 539-544.


2022. Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism. (with Lucan Way). Princeton University Press.

2018. How Democracies Die. (with Daniel Ziblatt). New York: Crown. ISBN 978-1-5247-6293-3. – NDR Kultur Sachbuchpreis 2018; Goldsmith Book Prize 2019

2010. Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. (with Lucan A. Way). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88252-1.

2006. Informal Institutions and Democracy: Lessons from Latin America. (edited with Gretchen Helmke). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8351-4.

2005. Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness. (edited with M. Victoria Murillo). University Park: Penn State University Press. ISBN 978-0-271-02715-9.

2003. Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-81677-9. [Published in Spanish as Transformación del Justicialismo: Del Partido Sindical al Partido Clientelista. Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2005]


  1. ^ "Steve Levitsky, Professor of Government". Harvard University. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  2. ^ a b c Balakrishna, Aditi (December 12, 2007). "Popular Levitsky Awarded Tenure". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  3. ^ a b "Senior Advisers and Executive Committee". Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Harvard University. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  4. ^ "Faculty Governance". David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Harvard University. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  5. ^ a b Steven Levitsky curriculum vitae, 2009. Via Harvard University website. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  6. ^ HACIA: XXII Summit of the Americas: Faculty advisor guide (2016). p. 2. Available as a PDF file at the HACIA Democracy website. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  7. ^ "Consejo Consultivo" (in Spanish). Politai: Asociación Civil. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  8. ^ "Classes". "PCUP: Taller [Workshop] Levitsky", summer 2013. Steve Levitsky faculty page. Harvard University. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  9. ^ Levitsky Steven; Way, Lucan A. (2002). "The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism.". Journal of Democracy, Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 51-66; here: p. 52-53. Available as PDF file via Harvard faculty page. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  10. ^ Levitsky & Way (2002), p. 52.
  11. ^ "Sachbuch". Spiegel Online. Der Spiegel. 25 August 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  12. ^ "How Democracies Die". Penguin Random House. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  13. ^ Levitsky, Steven; Ziblatt, Daniel (20 September 2019). "Why Republicans Play Dirty: They fear that…". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Daily News reporter chosen for Harvard fellowship". The MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  15. ^ Friedman, Gabe (October 27, 2015). "The 'lifelong Zionists' who called for an Israel boycott. In a Washington Post op-ed, professors Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl urged economic sanctions on Jewish state". The Times of Israel. An Op-Ed co-written last Friday by two American Jewish professors has stirred Internet controversy, with the focus largely on their use of four words: "We are lifelong Zionists."
  16. ^ "Publications". Steve Levitsky faculty page. Harvard University. Retrieved 2016-10-23.

External links[edit]