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On the timing of political regime changes in Arab countries

Author

Listed:
  • Raouf Boucekkine

    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

  • Fabien Prieur

    (LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UPVM - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - Montpellier SupAgro - Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement, UM1 - Université Montpellier 1)

  • Klarizze Puzon

    (UM1 - Université Montpellier 1)

Abstract

We develop a dynamic game to provide with a comprehensive 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 conse- quence of a revolution by the citizens 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 situa- tions 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 the timing of political regime changes in Arab countries," Post-Print hal-01123394, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01123394
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01123394
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