Psot-communist state-building in Central Asia: old patterns, New callenges

GT 6.9 Inestabilidad política en los regímenes autoritarios y semiautoritarios euroasiáticos 20 años después de la desintegración de la URSS y Yugoslavia

A. Tolga Turker (Istanbul Arel University)

Nation-state building period of the newly independent Central Asian Republics have started to a large extend by the political elites of the former Soviet Union. The main assumption was that communist state structure is too penetrating in the political, economic and social life to the extent that it prevents flourishing of democratic policies and liberal markets. Therefore the obvious remedy for post-communist Central Asian states is to follow the Western path of reducing the power of state both in its size and scope. However this transition resulted in ineffective policies as well as diminishing institutional capacity of post-communist states, which is displayed by rise in corruption and organized crime, increasing social inequalities and decline in social services.  Although these states had coercive apparatus, they lacked infrastructural power in the sense that their institutions were unorganized, poorly coordinated and not so easily adaptable. The main argument of this article is that the failure to build infrastructural state power in Central Asian Republics is related to the strategic choices made by the ruling elite, which emphasized power-building at the expense of state building. Formal institutions are mainly used to enhance one-man regimes and governance relied on informal structures and practices rather than development of a legitimate organization capable of exercising authority over national borders to provide basic services to citizens. The result is the reduction in state’s capacity to command, extract and regulate, the personalization of social relations and institutions and eventual prevention of societal integration through mass participation in politics. Given this pattern, this study will analyze how ruling elite in Central Asia imposed and reproduced their power, describe the consequences of power-building strategies on state institutional capacities and discuss the future of political stability in the region.