Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Power, Perceptions, and Pacts / Edition 1

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The establishment of electoral systems in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan presents a complex set of empirical puzzles as well as a theoretical challenge. Why did three states with similar cultural, historical, and structural legacies establish such different electoral systems? How did these distinct outcomes result from strikingly similar institutional design processes? Explaining these puzzles requires understanding not only the outcome of institutional design but also the intricacies of the process that led to this outcome. Moreover, the transitional context in which the three states designed new electoral rules necessitates an approach that explicitly links process and outcome in a dynamic setting. This book provides such an approach. It depicts institutional design as a transitional bargaining game in which the dynamic interaction between the structural-historical and immediate-strategic contexts directly shapes actors' perceptions of shifts in their relative power, and hence, their bargaining strategies. Thus, it both builds on the key insights of the dominant approaches to explaining institutional origin and change and transcends these approaches by moving beyond the structure versus agency debate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a remarkable and much-needed book that applies rigorous inquiry and hands-on experience to a long under-studied subject... It is a most welcome development that a scholar has devoted this kind of sophisticated attention to this corner of the world." Journal of Politics

"The book is well written and well produced." Choice

"...Luoung's book does not disappoint. Provocatively argued, it is committed to theory and intellectual sophistication." Russian Review

"...a well-designed comparative study, motivated by strong theoretical concerns...Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia is an outstanding piece of research...this is obligatory reading for students of electoral systems so that they may appreciate once more that the adoption of electoral systems is not a technical but a political question." Perspectives on Politics

Although the three former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan shared similar economic and political histories, they developed surprisingly different electoral regimes in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union. Luong (political science, Yale U.) seeks to unravel the puzzle of the causes of these institutional developments. She argues that the negotiations over electoral systems lay bare asymmetries of power that can then inform not only the nature of current political change, but also future prospects. She places elite perceptions of shifts in power at the center of her analysis, concluding that none of the political elites saw a fundamental challenge to their power and therefore continued to rely on regionalism as a foundation for their politics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521801096
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Series: Studies in Comparative Politics
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Lexile: 1820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

1. The continuity of change: old formulas and new institutions; 2. Explaining institutional design in transitional states: beyond structure versus agency; 3. Sources of continuity: the Soviet legacy in Central Asia; 4. Sources of change: the transitional context in Central Asia; 5. The electoral system in Kyrgyzstan: rise of the regions; 6. The electoral system in Uzbekistan: revenge of the center; 7. The electoral system in Kazakhstan: the center's rise and the regions' revenge; 8. Institutional change through continuity: shifting power and prospects for democracy.

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