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Ignacio Arana Araya

Ignacio Arana Araya

Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology

  • Posner Hall 380
  • 412-268-1475


Dr. Arana is a comparativist that focuses on two lines of inquiry. He specializes in elite behavior by analyzing how the personality traits and other individual differences of heads of government impact executive governance. Second, he studies the consequences of variation in political institutions across countries, with an emphasis on Latin America. He examines executive-legislative relations, informal institutions, gender and politics, and judicial politics. 

His work has been published in The American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of PoliticsPolitical PsychologyDemocratizationJournal of Legislative StudiesLatin American Politics and SocietyJournal of Law and CourtsLatin American PerspectivesAmérica Latina HoyRevista de Ciencia PolíticaBolivian Studies Journal, and Política. He has also published or have forthcoming book chapters in Oxford University Press, Springer, and FLACSO.

He just completed the book manuscript “Presidential Personalities and Constitutional Power Grabs in Latin America, 1945-2021." Arana is an affiliated faculty at CMU’s Center for Informed Democracy & Social-Cybersecurity (IDeaS), part of the Democratic Erosion consortium, Chile’s country expert for Freedom House since 2016, and columnist for

At the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology, Arana has benefitted from working with more than sixty-five research assistants developing projects such as the World Leaders Database Project, a database that contains biographical information about the nearly 2,000 leaders that have governed countries around the world since 1970.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, he received the Provost’s Inclusive Teaching Fellowship, which helped the students in his Comparative Politics class, the largest in CMIST, feel empowered to participate.


2023. “Dominant Personality and Politically Inexperienced Presidents Challenge Term Limits” Forthcoming in Journal of Politics. DOI:

2023. “Chavismo in Venezuela.” Forthcoming in Luca Anceschi, Alexander Baturo, and Francesco Cavatorta, eds., Personalism and Personalist Regimes. Oxford University Press.

2022. When Do First Ladies Run for Office? Lessons from Latin America” (with Carolina Guerrero). Latin American Politics and Society 64(3), 93-116. 

2022. “The ‘Big Five’ Personality Traits of Presidents and the Relaxation of Term Limits in Latin America" Democratization 29(1), 113-132. 

2022. “The Quest for Uncontested Power: Presidents’ Personalities and Democratic Erosion in Latin America, 1945-2012” Political Psychology 43(3), 511-528.

2022. “The Latinized Dragon: China and Latin America in the Twenty-First Century” (with Hengyi Yang). Latin American Research Review 57(4), 972-982. 

2021. “Judicial Reshuffles and Women Justices in Latin America” (with Aníbal Pérez-Liñán and Melanie Hughes). American Journal of Political Science, 65(2), 373-388. 

2021. “The Personalities of Presidents as Independent Variables” Political Psychology, 42(4), 695-712. 

2020. “Executive-Legislative Relations: When do Legislators trust the President?” (with Carolina Guerrero). In Manuel Alcántara, Mercedes García Montero, and Cristina Rivas Pérez, eds., Politics and Political Elites in Latin America. Springer. 

2019. “To Impeach or Not to Impeach: Lessons from Latin America” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs

2019. “First Ladies as Members of the Political Elite” [In Spanish] (with Carolina Guerrero). América Latina Hoy 81: 31-49.

2018. “Comparative Political Elites” In Ali Farazmand and Mauricio Olavarría-Gambi, eds., The Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. 

2018. “The Electoral Emergence of Latin American First Ladies” [In Spanish] (with Carolina Guerrero). In L. M. Leibe and J. Suárez-Cao, eds., La Política Siempre ha sido Cosa de Mujeres: Elecciones y Protagonistas en Chile y la RegiónFLACSO-Chile.

2018. Elecciones en Chile 2017: Congreso Remozado, Presidente Repetido” Iberoamericana 18(69): 231-238. 

2017. “Strategic Retirement in Comparative Perspective: Supreme Court Justices in Presidential Regimes” (with Aníbal Pérez-Liñán). Journal of Law and Courts 5(2): 173-197. 

2017. “Chile 2016: The Nadir of Democratic Legitimacy?” [In Spanish] Revista de Ciencia Política, 37(2): 305-334. 

2016. “What Drives Evo’s Attempts to Remain in Power? A Psychological Explanation” Bolivian Studies Journal, 22: 191-219. 

2016. “Aftershocks of Pinochet’s Constitution: the Chilean Post-Earthquake Reconstruction” Latin American Perspectives, 44(4): 62-80. 

2016. “Democracia y matrimonios presidenciales: poca competencia y rotación en la élite política.” Nueva Sociedad 266.

2015. “Budgetary Negotiations: How the Chilean Congress Overcomes its Constitutional Limits” Journal of Legislative Studies, 21(2): 213-231. 

2013. “Informal Institutions and Horizontal Accountability: Protocols in the Chilean Budgetary Process” Latin American Politics and Society, 55(4): 74-94. 

2012. “Who whispers to the president? Advisors versus ministers in Latin America” [In Spanish] Politica 50(2): 29-57.