Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 June 2011
Research on regime change has often wound up chasing events in the post-Soviet world because it has frequently assumed that regime change, if not simple instability, implies a trajectory toward a regime-type endpoint like democracy or autocracy. A supplemental approach recognizes that regime change can be cyclic, not just progressive, regressive, or random. In fact, regime cycles are much of what we see in the postcommunist world, where some states have oscillated from autocracy toward greater democracy, then back toward more autocracy, and, with recent “colored revolutions,” toward greater democracy again. An institutional logic of elite collective action, focusing on the effects of patronalpresidentialism, is shown to be useful in understanding such cyclic dynamics, explaining why “revolutions” occurred between 2003 and 2005 in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan but not in countries like Russia, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan.
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24 The core logic was initially developed with reference to the Russian case and to certain of the theories cited above. Thus to some extent the analysis of the other post-Soviet cases does constitute a test. For present purposes, however, the case narratives that follow are presented not as an explicit test but as useful illustrations of the theory's potential. This will hopefully spawn further research and more precise and thorough testing than is possible in the scope of a journal article.
25 On the origins of this sort of clientelism in the former USSR and in other countries with legacies of patrimonial communism, see Kitschelt et al. (fn. 16).
27 As counted throughout most of the 1990s and early 2000s.
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58 Aleksandr Litvinenko, “‘Oranzhevaia Revoliutsiia: Prichiny, Kharakter i Rezultaty,” in Pogrebin-sky (fn. 43), 13; Yanevsky (fn. 54), 58, 64.
59 Author interview with Pogrebinsky (fn. 52).
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70 RFE/RL Newsline, April 11, 2002.
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74 Nur Omarov, cited in Kabar (Kyrgyzstan), http://www.kabar.kg/rus, June 30, 2005, 09:40.
75 RFE/RL Newsline, March 16, 2005; RFE/RL Newsline, March 22, 2005; “Kurmanbek Bakiyev becomes Kyrgyz Prime Minister and Acting President,” Times of Central Asia, March 25, 2005, 01:40, http:// www.times.kg/news/Protests/Kyrgyzstan/2005/03/25/0068147; Erica Marat, “Kyrgyz Crisis Reaches Bishkek—Rumors Suggest Akayev Has Fled Country,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, March 21, 2005.
76 RFE/RL Newsline, July 12, 2005.
77 Kurmanbek Bakiev, “Kurmanbek Bakiev,” interview, Gazeta.Kg (Kyrgyzstan), June 28, 2005,21:06.
78 While the author was an observer for the OSCE in the Kyrgyzstan presidential election, the views expressed in this paper are those of the author only and not necessarily those of the OSCE. The OSCE final report on the election can be found at http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr-el/2005/12/17585_ en.pdf (last accessed February 19, 2006).
79 Liz Fuller, “Democracy or Oligarchy?” RFE/RL Newsline, v.l, no.122, pt. I, September 22, 1997.
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81 This case shows that the elite contestation phase does not necessarily play out in the electoral arena.
82 On the Tajikistan election, see Zafar Abdullaev and Kambiz Arman, “To the Rulers, Víctory,” Transitions Online, February 28, 2005; and the OSCE'S final report, available at http://www.osce.org/ documents/html/pdftohtmi/14852_en.pdf.html (last accessed February 19, 2006).
83 TOL, “Sidelining the Opposition,” Transitions Online, February 26, 2005.
84 On Rakhmonov's perceived popularity, see Freedom House, Nations in Transit 2004, http://un-panl.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/NISPAcee/UNPAN017051.pdf (last accessed February 20, 2006).
85 Thus, while nearly all unpopular leaders in Eurasia's patronal presidential countries attempted repressive behavior in order to win elections, we see that they were successful in doing so (maintaining the necessary elite loyalty) only when they were not lame ducks or when the chosen successor was broadly popular in his own right (for example, Putin in Russia).
86 Christensen, Rakhimkulov, and Wise (fn. 22).
87 Not just any dispersion of power will have a long-run democratizing effect, of course, since a badly designed division of authority or a muddling of authority could produce instability and a reversion to autocracy; see Paul D'Anieri, “What Has Changed in Ukrainian Politics? Assessing the Implications of the Orange Revolution,” Problems of Post-Communism 52 (September-October 2005). In Ukraine, President Yushchenko has hinted that he would like to alter the deal struck in late 2004, and many of his present and former associates have made even stronger statements to this effect, although for now elites generally expect power to be divided in the future. As D'Anieri points out, however, it is unclear at the time of this writing exactly how power will be divided. The case of Moldova's parliamentary system represents a sort of middle-ground case: its parliament elects the president. This gives the opposition greater opportunity to gain a stake in power and hence increases scope for contestation: the incumbent party lost the first parliamentary election under these rules in 2001 and the new incumbent party, seeking reelection in 2005, had to strike a deal with members of another party to stay in power. But once installed, the president has a great deal of authority to exercise power and constrain opposition, much like the Westminster system whose potentially antidemocratic effects are ably described by Horowitz, in Diamond and Plattner (fn. 13). Kyrgyzstan is presently in something of a limbo, with Bakiev having promised a diminution of presidential authority in favor of the prime minister (Kulov), but so far without this being institutionalized in an amended constitution. On these cases and issues, see Henry E. Hale, “How the Mighty Fall: The Colored Revolutions and Eurasia's Democratic Prospects” (Paper presented at the 11th annual world convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities, New York City, March 23–25, 2006).
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89 I explore some of the latter issues in Hale (fn. 87).
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