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The perception of the Arab Spring in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: A study of political change and learning from 2005 to 2015

Dorr, Sarah Winifred (2018) The perception of the Arab Spring in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: A study of political change and learning from 2005 to 2015. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

What impact has the “Arab Spring” had upon authoritarian Central Asian regimes? Scholars and journalists have raised the possibility of a “Central Asian Spring,” uprisings across the region ousting the incumbent authoritarian regimes. However, short of the possibility of an outright revolution, how the Arab Spring has reshaped the region has not been addressed. This thesis examines the Arab Spring’s impact on Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan’s approach to maintaining regime security. It questions how the ruling authorities of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have responded to pressures, perceived or anticipated, for political change, and how these responses were framed and legitimized. It utilizes a comparative analysis of elite rhetoric from 2005 to 2015 supplemented with fieldwork interviews to identify an evolution in regime maintenance. I apply the demonstration effect to the elite-level to explain how regimes may be influenced by events elsewhere as they seek to forestall challenges to their leadership. This thesis found that the Kazakh regime’s rhetorical and behavioural response to the Arab Spring suggested that it influenced their perceptions of regime security through an elite-level demonstration effect. This suggests that uprisings outside of a region can influence authoritarian regimes through an elite-level demonstration effect even in the absence of widespread unrest at home. The absence of an elite-level demonstration effect in Kyrgyzstan presented plausible evidence that an elite-level demonstration effect is less likely to occur after domestic revolution. These findings have wider implications for traditional understandings of political change and authoritarian stability as they address why political change appears in some societies and not others. Above all, these findings demonstrate that the internal dynamics of transformation in “stable” authoritarian regimes merit examination, even in the absence of unrest at home.  

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Authoritarianism, regime security, elite-level demonstration effect, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Sarah Winifred Dorr
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2019 16:31
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2019 16:31
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22878

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