A hybrid regime is a mixed type of political regime that arises on the basis of an authoritarian as a result of an incomplete democratic transition. Hybrid regimes combine autocratic features with democratic ones, they can simultaneously hold political repressions and regular elections. The term “hybrid regime” arises from a polymorphic view of political regimes that opposes the dichotomy of autocracy or democracy. Hybrid regimes are characteristic of resource countries (petro-states). Such regimes are stable and tenacious.
Western researchers analyzing hybrid regimes pay attention mainly to the decorative nature of democratic institutions (elections do not lead to a change of power, different media broadcast government point of view, the “opposition” in parliament votes the same way as the ruling party, etc.), from which it is concluded that authoritarianism is the basis of hybrid regimes, however, hybrid regimes also imitate dictatorship, while having a relatively lower level of violence.
The third wave of democratization has led to the emergence of hybrid regimes that are neither fully democratic nor fully authoritarian. Neither the concept of illiberal democracy, nor the concept of electoral authoritarianism fully describes these hybrid regimes.
Since the end of the Cold War, such regimes have become the most common among undemocratic. At the end of the process of transformation of authoritarian regimes, when liberalization occurs, limited elections appear in one way or another, liberal democracy has always been assumed, while in practice, this process basically froze “halfway”.
In relation to regimes that were previously called “transitional” in the 1980s, the term “hybrid regime” began to be used, which was strengthened because, in the words of Thomas Carothers, the majority of “transitional countries” are neither completely dictatorial nor aspiring to democracy, and by and large they can not be called transitional. They are located in the politically stable gray zone, changes in which may not take place for decades.” Thus, he stated that hybrid regimes must be considered without the assumption that they will ultimately become democracies. These hybrid regimes were called semi-authoritarianism or electoral authoritarianism.
There are many different terms that describe specific types of hybrid regimes.
Different authors wrote about electoral authoritarianism or the so-called hybrid regimes (Levitsky and Way 2002; T. Karl 1995; L. Diamond 1999; A. Schedler 2002), but this phenomenon is not new and most authoritarian governments that conduct elections are not hybrids, but are successful well-institutionalized authoritarian regimes. Democratic elements can simultaneously serve authoritarian purposes and contribute to democratization.
Electoral authoritarianism means that democratic institutions are imitative and, due to numerous systematic violations of liberal democratic norms, in fact adhere to authoritarian methods.
Electoral authoritarianism can be competitive and hegemonic, and the latter does not necessarily mean election irregularities.
Moreover, a purely authoritarian regime does not need elections as a source of legitimacy while non-alternative elections, appointed at the request of the ruler, are not a sufficient condition for considering the regime conducting them to be hybrid.
Full-fledged (liberal) democracies are built on key things such as universal suffrage, free and fair elections held on a regular basis, more than one ruling political party, numerous independent media, support for human rights, and the process unhindered by elites or external influential figures voter decision making. The absence of any key element of democracy makes it possible to classify the regime as a broken democracy, the most common type of problem democracy being illiberal democracy.
The researchers conducted a comparative analysis of political regimes around the world (Samuel Finer 1970), in developing countries (Almond and Coleman, 1960), among Latin America (Collier 1979) and West Africa regimes (Zolberg, 1966). Types of non-democratic regimes are described (Linz, 2000, originally published in 1975 and Perlmutter, 1981). Huntington and Moore (Huntington and Moore, 1970) discuss the one-party system issue. Hermet (Guy Hermet, Rose, & Rouquie 1978) explores how elections are held in such authoritarian regimes, which are nominally democratic institutions.
“Hybrid regimes” (Diamond 2002), and “competitive authoritarianism” (Levitsky and Way 2002) and “electoral authoritarianism” (Schedler, 2006), as well as how officials who came to power in an undemocratic way, form election rules (Lust-Okar and Jamal, 2002), institutionalize electoral frauds (Lehoucq 2003, Schedler 2002) and manipulate the economy (L. Blaydes 2006, Magaloni 2006) in order to win the election and stay in power.