On Political Regime Changes in Arab Countries
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.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2014|
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