Regime type versus patronal politics: a comparison of “ardent democrats” in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Barbara Junisbai, Azamat Junisbai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Kazakhstan is home to the longest serving ruler in post-Soviet Eurasia while Kyrgyzstan is among the region’s most competitive polities. Do these regime differences correspond to divergence in political attitudes, as an extensive body of literature posits? Are Kyrgyzstanis more likely to strongly support democratic ideals? Are Kazakhstanis less likely? Contrary to expectations, data reveal the two populations to be attitudinally indistinguishable when it comes to strong support for practices associated with democracy. Whatever country differences we find are minor or statistically insignificant. We explain this convergence by shifting focus away from the political features that distinguish the two nascent democracy versus consolidated authoritarianism to those that they hold in common. Notwithstanding major constitutional reform in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, politics there, as in Kazakhstan, remains fundamentally patronal, or patronage- based. Mass attitudes, we argue, align in many ways with the countries’ shared patronal politics, rather than with their contrasting regime types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-257
Number of pages18
JournalPost-Soviet Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2019


  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Political attitudes
  • patronal politics
  • regime type
  • support for democracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations

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