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On Political Regime Changes in Arab Countries


  • Raouf Boucekkine

    () (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS)

  • Fabien Prieur

    () (LAMETA, Université Montpellier I and INRA)

  • Klarizze Puzon

    () (LAMETA, University of Montpellier I)


We develop a dynamic game to provide with a theory of Arab spring-type events. We consider two interacting groups, the elite vs the citizens, two political regimes, dictatorship vs a freer regime, the possibility to switch from the first to the second regime as a consequence of a revolution, and finally the opportunity, for the elite, to affect the citizens' decision through concession and/or repression strategies. In this framework, we provide a full characterization of the equilibrium of the political regime switching game. First, we emphasize the role of the direct switching cost of a revolution (for the citizens) and of the elite's self-preservation options. Under the concession strategy, when the switching cost is low, the elite can't avoid the political regime change. She optimally adapts to the overthrow of their political power by setting the rate of redistribution to the highest possible level, thereby extending the period during which she has full control on resources. This surprising result actually illustrates the role of the timing of events in these situations of interaction between the ruling elite and the people. When the direct switching is high, the elite can ultimately select the equilibrium outcome and adopts the opposite strategy, i.e. she chooses the lowest level of redistribution that allows her to stay in power forever. The same kind of results are obtained when the elite relies on repression to keep the citizens under control. Next, the equilibrium properties under a mix of repression and redistribution are analyzed. It is shown that in situations where neither repression (only) nor redistribution (only) protect the elite against the uprising of citizens, a subtle mixture of the two instruments is sufficient to make the dictatorship permanent. Based on our theoretical results, we finally examine the reason for such a large variety of decisions and outcomes during the Arab Spring events.

Suggested Citation

  • Raouf Boucekkine & Fabien Prieur & Klarizze Puzon, 2014. "On Political Regime Changes in Arab Countries," AMSE Working Papers 1401, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 22 Jan 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1401

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    Cited by:

    1. Raouf Boucekkine & Paolo G. Piacquadio & Fabien Prieur, 2015. "A Lipsetian Theory of Institutional Change," AMSE Working Papers 1512, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France.
    2. Raouf Boucekkine & Fabien Prieur & Benteng Zou, 2015. "Institutional dynamics under revenue volatility and revenue-dependent lobbying power: A stochastic differential game approach," CREA Discussion Paper Series 15-08, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.

    More about this item


    Political transitions; revolution; natural resources; optimal timing; regime switching; dynamic game.;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts


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