“The collapse of the Soviet Union: 20 years on”


Cast ashore on different islands: Impediments for sultanistic regimes to democratize



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11. Cast ashore on different islands: Impediments for sultanistic regimes to democratize


The USSR disintegration into independent states resulted in three different outcomes: countries that successfully democratized or are in the process of transition, countries that never made significant steps towards democratization remaining authoritarian and countries that failed the process of transition and “rolled back” to non-democratic regimes. This paper compares two regimes that fall within the category of sultanistic regimes and did not democratize: Belarus, often called as “the last dictatorship of Europe”, represents the failed transition and Turkmenistan a country where transition never took place. Following major democratization theories (Linz & Stephan 1996; Chehabi & Linz 1998) that suggest that chances of democratization in this type of countries are highly reduced.

I identify the factors that play the major role in preventing their democratization. I test the influence of three different factors derived from previous research: 1) historical (as externally determined) independence, 2) Socio-economic (i.e. tribal structure of society, isolation of rural masses, lack of education and possessing of considerable amount of easily-exploitable resources), and 3) Rulers’ personality. The analysis also delves into prospects of future democratization for these regimes and sees international assistance or aid policy as helpful tools in democratizing sultanistic regimes.



Mariam Naskidashvili

Leiden University



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