Liberalizing Autocracies in the Gulf Region? Reform Strategies in the Face of a Cultural-Economic Syndrome
Summary From an international comparative perspective, the stability of autocratic regimes in the countries of the Gulf region is striking. This paper presents historical-cultural as well as economic explanations and proposes that the interaction of both factors constitutes a cultural-economic syndrome accounting for the persistence of authoritarianism. Macro-quantitative analyses demonstrate the significant influence of this syndrome, which operates through a mechanism of mutual reinforcement and substitution. Departing from this diagnosis, potential remedies are discussed: political and economic reform measures pursued in the 1990s are explored, and the Gulf monarchies are classified according to four ideal-typical combinations of reform strategies.
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