Lucan Ahmad Way

Lucan Ahmad Way
Telephone number
Building HL 554


Lucan Ahmad Way received his BA from Harvard College and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Way’s research focuses on global patterns of democracy and dictatorship.  His most recent book (with Steven Levitsky), Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism (Princeton University Press) provides a comparative historical explanation for the extraordinary durability of autocracies (China, Cuba, USSR) born of violent social revolution. Way’s solo-authored book, Pluralism by Default: Weak Autocrats and the Rise of Competitive Politics (Johns Hopkins, 2015), examines the sources of political competition in the former Soviet Union.  Way argues that pluralism in the developing world often emerges out of authoritarian weakness: governments are too fragmented and states too weak to monopolize political control.  His first book, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (with Steven Levitsky), was published in 2010 by Cambridge University Press. Way’s work on competitive authoritarianism has been cited thousands of times and helped stimulate new and wide-ranging research into the dynamics of hybrid democratic-authoritarian rule.

Way also has published articles in the American Journal of Political ScienceComparative Politics, Journal of Democracy, Perspectives on Politics, Politics & Society, Slavic Review, Studies in Comparative and International Development, World Politics, as well as in a number of area studies journals and edited volumes. His 2005 article in World Politics was awarded the Best Article Award in the “Comparative Democratization” section of the American Political Science Association in 2006. He is Co-Director of the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine and is Co-Chair of the Editorial Board of The Journal of Democracy. He has held fellowships at Harvard University (Harvard Academy and Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies), and the University of Notre Dame (Kellogg Fellowship).

Interview with Lucan Ahmad Way

Research Interests

  • Democratization
  • Revolutions
  • Dictatorship
  • Soviet and post-Soviet politics

Awards and Grants

  • Social Sciences and Humanities (SSHRC) Connection Grant 2017, “1917: Culture, Violence and Political Change in the 20th Century,” $18,118
  • Social Sciences and Humanities (SSHRC) Insight Grant 2012-18, “Revolutionary Struggle and Authoritarian Durability,” $175,000
  • Social Sciences and Humanities (SSHRC) Research Grant 2007-2011 “Competitive Authoritarianism,” $65,000
  • Winner of the Best Article Award from the American Political Science Association’s Comparative Democratization Section, 2006


Pluralism by Default: Weak Autocrats and the Rise of Competitive Politics. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015 (257 pages).

Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010 (520 pages); with Steven Levitsky.

“Is America Still Safe for Democracy?  Why the United States is in Danger of Backsliding” (with Steven Levitsky and Robert Mickey) Foreign Affairs April 2017.

“Was the 2016 U.S. election democratic? Here are 7 serious shortfalls” (with Dan Slater) Washington Post 12 January 2017.

 “Preface to special issue ‘Competitive authoritarianism in Africa revisited’” Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft [Comparative Governance and Politics] October 2015.

 “The Limits of Autocracy Promotion: The Case of Russia in the ‘Near Abroad’” European Journal of Political Research 54, No. 4 (2015): 691-706.

“The Myth of Democratic Recession” (with Steven Levitsky) Journal of Democracy, 25, No. 1 (January 2015): 45-58. 

"The Maidan and Beyond: Civil Society and Democratization in Ukraine," Journal of Democracy, 25 No. 3 (July 2014): 35-43. 

 “Comparing Arab Revolts: Lessons of 1989.” Journal of Democracy, 22 No. 4 (October 2011): 17-27.

“Why Democracy Needs a Level Playing Field.” Journal of Democracy, 21 no. 1 (January 2010): 57-68; (with Steven Levitsky)

“Beyond Patronage: Violent Struggle, Ruling Party Cohesion and Authoritarian Durability,” (with Steven Levitsky) Perspectives on Politics 10 No. 4 (2012): 869-889.

“Deer in Headlights: Incompetence and Weak Authoritarianism after the Cold War.” Slavic Review, 71 No. 3 (2012): 619-646

 “Linkage versus Leverage: Rethinking the International Dimension of Regime Change in the Post-Cold War Era” Comparative Politics, 38 No. 4 (July 2006): 379-400. (with Steven Levitsky)

“Authoritarian State Building and the Sources of Political Competition in the Fourth Wave: The Cases of Belarus, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine,” World Politics, 57 No. 4 (January 2005): 231-261.

“The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism.” Journal of Democracy, 13 No. 2 (April 2002): 51-65. (with Steven Levitsky)

Teaching Interests

  • POLA01H3 Critical Issues in Politics: Revolutionary Change from Lenins to ISIS
  • POLB91H3 Comparative Development in Political Perspective
  • POLD92H3 Survival and Demise of Dictatorships