Misruling the Masses: The Consequences of Cracking Down in Kyrgyzstan

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Abstract

Can nondemocratic leaders initiate a crackdown against mass protesters and suffer little in the way of political-reputational costs? In conceptualizing a crackdown as a government-orchestrated violent restriction of civil society involving the killing of civilians, this article analyzes how the use of force is perceived by ordinary citizens when their government represses a portion of the populace. In analyzing the findings of a 2016 survey that gauges contemporary attitudes toward the overthrow of presidents Askar Akaev (in 2005) and Kurmanbek Bakiev (in 2010), this article argues that Kyrgyzstanis evaluate the Bakiev administration more negatively than they do the Akaev administration because of the former's resort to forceful measures in attempting to quell mass protesters in April 2010. Such findings imply that nondemocratic leaders who employ force against mass protesters incur significant political-reputational costs, irrespective as to whether the wider public views the mass protests as legitimate or not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-646
Number of pages19
JournalNationalities Papers
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019

Keywords

  • Central Asia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • authoritarianism
  • legitimacy
  • mass protests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations

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