Debating the Color Revolutions: Popular Autocrats

Issue Date January 2009
Volume 20
Issue 1
Page Numbers 78-81
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

The popularity of incumbents can explain the resilience of authoritarian regimes in postcommunist Eurasia. Popular autocrats, in contrast to their unpopular counterparts, enjoy the support of the electorate and rarely have to resort to the use of brute force. Incumbents have at their disposal three strategies for ensuring popularity: economic populism, anti-Western nationalism, and muzzling the media. Cumulatively, these three strategies produce high levels of regime legitimacy and stability, and thwart the rise of a successful opposition movement. Broadly speaking, popular incumbents have managed to hold on to power in postcommunist Eurasia, while unpopular ones have eventually been unseated.

About the Author

Martin K. Dimitrov is assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College and an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He is currently working on a book-length study of the collapse and survival of communist regimes.

View all work by Martin K. Dimitrov