INSIDE THE PYRAMID: Is Central Asia authoritarianism stable? 15 December 2015
Published: 24 November 2015
A Workshop Series organised by CRCEES [University of Glasgow] & CAP [George Washington University] atrimonial, patronal, clientelistic: Central Asia’s authoritarian power is often classified in these terms.
INSIDE THE PYRAMID
Is Central Asia authoritarianism stable?
A Workshop Series organised by CRCEES [University of Glasgow] & CAP [George Washington University]atrimonial, patronal, clientelistic: Central Asia’s authoritarian power is often classified in
The proliferation of analytical rubrics and conceptual lenses to delve into regional developments confirms that, if anything, Central Asian politics is profoundly complex. The regional conformation of power does however remain relatively stable. Regime durability, in most cases, is supported by the intricate connexion of domestic patronal networks with international alliances; sophisticated propaganda machines have also sustained local élites in their drive to conceal disastrous socio-economic policies. To all intents and purposes, a calculated combination of softer authoritarian strategies and more repressive governance methods has allowed the Central Asian leaders to reduce internal political processes and mechanisms to regimes’ monopolies.
Incumbency continues to dominate politics in the region, as confirmed by the long tenures of first-generation leaders in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and of Emomali Rahmon in post-conflict Tajikistan. The outcome of the Turkmen transition in 2006-2007, on the other hand, suggested that the persistence of authoritarian governance is likely to survive eventual leadership changes. Ultimately, it is a picture of apparent stability that informs how international observers have understood, digested, and framed the interconnection between power and politics in post-Soviet Central Asia.
These two workshops aim to challenge directly this characterisation, by discussing a specific set of factors, processes, and actors that are eroding – silently yet not insignificantly – the stability that is proverbially enshrined within Central Asia’s authoritarian governance. While the weak
nature of Central Asia’s statehood has been appropriately questioned in the current scholarly debate, this workshop series intends to challenge the myth of Central Asia’s regime infrangibility.
An accurately designed work of regime diagnostic does therefore sit at the analytical core of these workshops; succession prognosis is not, except indirectly. Four specific issues have been selected by the organisers to identify and discuss the key elements underpinning the stability of the regimes that rule Central Asia 25 years after the achievement of independence. Specifically:
• The International Environment
• Élite fragmentation
The first two facets will be discussed at the Glasgow workshop (December 2015), while the Washington DC seminar (April 2016) will in turn focus on the latter set of factors.
Date: 15 December 2015
Venue: Melville Room, Gilbert Scott Building, University of Glasgow
Programme: Inside the Pyramid programme
First published: 24 November 2015