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The Soft Authoritarian Tool Kit: Agenda-Setting Power in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Edward Schatz
Comparative Politics
Vol. 41, No. 2 (January 2009), pp. 203-222
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40599210
Page Count: 20
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The Soft Authoritarian Tool Kit: Agenda-Setting Power in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
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Abstract

If elections and civil liberties are the principal institutionalized mechanisms of democratic governance, and if naked coercion is the centerpiece of hard authoritarianism, what allows a soft authoritarian system to survive? The cement of soft authoritarian rule is the ability of elites to frame the political debate, thereby defining the political agenda and channeling political outcomes. The contrast between the strengthening of soft authoritarianism in Kazakhstan and the erosion of soft authoritarianism in Kyrgyzstan shows that soft authoritarianism is effective when it succeeds in making good use of the state's means of persuasion, although coercion remains a part of the ruling elite's arsenal. This perspective implies a need to conceptualize soft authoritarian rule in dynamic, rather than static, terms.

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