Browsing by Subject "Authoritarianism"

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  • Alava, Henni; Ssentongo, Jimmy Spire (2017)
    Religion has influenced Ugandan politics ever since colonial times. While the interrelations of religion and politics have altered since the coming to power of president Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM), religion continues to influence Ugandan public culture and formal politics in important ways. Building on ethnographic fieldwork in Kampala and Acholi, as well as analysis of media reporting and discussions in social media, this article focuses on the role of religious leaders during Uganda’s 2016 parliamentary and presidential elections. We argue that the striking differences between Ugandan clerics’ teaching on politics relate in part to genuine differences in religious beliefs, but also to patronage, intimidation, and ethnicity, and to the strategic calculations religious leaders make about how best to affect change in a constricted political environment. In discussion with previous research on religion and politics in Africa, and utilising analytical concepts from the study of publics, the article proposes a model of religious (de)politicisation, whereby both the politicising and depoliticising effects of religion are acknowledged. To do so, the analysis distinguishes between NGO-ised and enchanted planes of religion, and shows that on both planes, religion contributed simultaneously to enhancing and diminishing the space for public debate in election-time Uganda. While many religious leaders actively or silently supported the incumbent regime, religious leaders also took vocal public stands, fostered political action, and catered for vernacular imaginaries of political critique, by so doing expanding the space of public debate. However, by performing public debate that remained vague on crucial issues, and by promoting a religious narrative of peace, religious leaders participated in the enactment of a façade of political debate, in so doing legitimising the autocratic facets of Museveni’s hybrid regime. Acknowledging religion as an important constituent of public culture contributes to more nuanced understandings of election dynamics in Eastern Africa.
  • Pietiläinen, Pihla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This Master’s thesis seeks to explain the reasons why some autocratic regimes remain stable for long periods of time, whereas others experience greater degrees of instability. The task is approached through a comparative case study approach, where three Central Asian countries that share multiple historical and cultural characteristics but differ in their outcomes are compared with one another. The theoretical background of the thesis encompasses well-established theories on governance strategies and legitimation, which are then evaluated against the Central Asian example. Three countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan were selected for the case study. The economic and social characteristics of these countries, as well as the governance strategies adopted by their regimes, were then evaluated in detail. The sources utilized in the analysis included economic and demographic data from the World Bank, survey data from the World Values Survey and reports from international organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Freedom House. Previous scholarship was also consulted. It was discovered that many different mechanisms have kept incumbents in power in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The leaders of both countries have been successful in promoting a narrative of themselves as guarantors of stability, largely accounting for their docile populations. Kazakhstan, with its extensive oil wealth, has been able to co-opt both elites and significant sectors of the population. Uzbekistan has also benefitted from more modest resource wealth, which has facilitated the co-optation of neopatrimonial support networks, as well as the devotion of resources to state security apparatus. More limited resources have, however, forced the Uzbek regime to rely on coercion more extensively. The thesis concludes with the finding that authoritarian failure is a sum of unfavourable circumstances and poor decision making on the part of the autocrat, especially when elite networks are neglected. Like its neighbours, Kyrgyzstan’s presidents have largely depended on neopatrimonial networks for support. The limited resources available to the regime, however, as well as their excessive concentration in the hands of the president’s immediate family, contributed to elite defections both in 2005 and 2010. These disaffected elites were then able to mobilise large sections of the disillusioned population, suffering both economic hardship and frustration with the corrupt regime. Lacking the coercive capabilities to suppress these uprisings, presidents Akaev and Bakiyev had no option but to step down in 2005 and 2010, respectively.