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

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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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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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