ThesisPDF Available




ABSTRACT ‘COLOR REVOLUTIONS’ IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE: THE CASE OF GEORGIA Aydın, Gülen Ph.D., Department of International Relations Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Oktay F. Tanrısever June 2010, 386 pages The objective of this thesis is to explain the dynamics bringing about the removal of the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze from power through the ‘Rose Revolution’. Relying on an historical sociological approach, contrary to the society-centered and the state-centered studies in the literature on the ‘Rose Revolution’, this thesis argues that the coercive, administrative, extractive, distributive and regulative incapacitation of the Georgian state, which resulted in the loss of state autonomy vis-à-vis domestic and external political actors before the ‘Rose Revolution’, led to the removal of Shevardnadze. In fact, the societycentered studies, which exclusively focus exclusively on the political opposition, the NGOs and the mass media, fail to explain the dynamics of the ‘Rose Revolution’ since they neglect the role of the state. Likewise, the state-centered studies’ exclusive focus on the coercive aspect of the Georgian state capacity resulted in the insufficient explanation of the ‘Rose Revolution’ since they neglect other aspects of state capacity such as administrative, extractive, distributive and regulative. The thesis consists of six main chapters, introduction and conclusion. Chapter 2 develops the theoretical framework of the study. Chapter 3 explores the historical background. Chapter 4 examines the process leading up to the ‘Rose Revolution’. Chapter 5 and 6 analyze the ‘Rose Revolution’ and its aftermath. Before the concluding chapter, Chapter 7 compares the Georgian case with the other seven post-Soviet cases. Keywords: Georgia, the Rose Revolution, historical sociology, state capacity, state autonomy.
JUNE 2010
Approval of the Graduate School of Social Sciences
Prof. Dr. Meliha Altunıık
I certify that this thesis satisfies all the requirements as a thesis for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
Prof. Dr. Meliha Altunıık
Head of Department
This is to certify that we have read this thesis and that in our opinion it is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Oktay F. Tanrısever
Examining Committee Members
Prof. Dr. Meliha Altunıık (METU, IR) ____________________
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Oktay F. Tanrısever (METU, IR) ____________________
Prof. Dr. Kamer Kasım (AIBU, IR) ____________________
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pınar Akçalı (METU, PADM) ____________________
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ceylan Tokluoğlu (METU, SOC) ____________________
I hereby declare that all information in this document has been obtained and
presented in accordance with academic rules and ethical conduct. I also
declare that, as required by these rules and conduct, I have fully cited and
referenced all material and results that are not original to this work.
Name, Last name: Gülen Aydın
Aydın, Gülen
Ph.D., Department of International Relations
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Oktay F. Tanrısever
June 2010, 386 pages
The objective of this thesis is to explain the dynamics bringing about the removal
of the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze from power through the ‘Rose
Revolution’. Relying on an historical sociological approach, contrary to the
society-centered and the state-centered studies in the literature on the ‘Rose
Revolution’, this thesis argues that the coercive, administrative, extractive,
distributive and regulative incapacitation of the Georgian state, which resulted in
the loss of state autonomy vis-à-vis domestic and external political actors before
the ‘Rose Revolution’, led to the removal of Shevardnadze. In fact, the society-
centered studies, which exclusively focus exclusively on the political opposition,
the NGOs and the mass media, fail to explain the dynamics of the ‘Rose
Revolution’ since they neglect the role of the state. Likewise, the state-centered
studies’ exclusive focus on the coercive aspect of the Georgian state capacity
resulted in the insufficient explanation of the ‘Rose Revolution’ since they neglect
other aspects of state capacity such as administrative, extractive, distributive and
The thesis consists of six main chapters, introduction and conclusion. Chapter 2
develops the theoretical framework of the study. Chapter 3 explores the historical
background. Chapter 4 examines the process leading up to the ‘Rose Revolution’.
Chapter 5 and 6 analyze the ‘Rose Revolution’ and its aftermath. Before the
concluding chapter, Chapter 7 compares the Georgian case with the other seven
post-Soviet cases.
Keywords: Georgia, the Rose Revolution, historical sociology, state capacity,
state autonomy.
Aydın, Gülen
Doktora, Uluslararası Đlikiler Bölümü
Tez Yöneticisi: Doç. Dr. Oktay F. Tanrısever
Haziran 2010, 386 sayfa
Bu tezin amacı Gürcistan’da Devlet Bakanı Edward evardnadze’nin devrilmesi
ile sonuçlanan Gül Devrimi’ni doğuran dinamikleri açıklamaktır. Tarihsel
sosyoloji yaklaımına dayanan bu tez, literatürdeki toplum-merkezcil ve devlet-
merkezcil çalımalardan farklı olarak, Gül Devrimi’ne giden süreçte Gürcü
devletinin zorlayıcı, idari, gelir sağlayıcı ve dağıtıcı ve düzenleyici kapasitelerinin
çöküünün, rejim değiikliğini isteyen ve güçlere karı devletin özerkliğini
kaybetmesi sonucunu doğurarak, evardnadze’nin devrilmesine neden olduğunu
savunmaktadır. Sadece siyasi muhalefete, sivil toplum kurulularına ve medyaya
odaklanan toplum-merkezcil çalımalar devletin rolünü göz ardı ettiklerinden Gül
Devrimi’nin dinamiklerini açıklayamamaktadırlar. Benzer ekilde, mevcut devlet-
merkezcil yaklaımların sadece Gürcü devletinin zorlayıcı kapasitesine
odaklanmaları, idari, gelir sağlayıcı ve dağıtıcı ve düzenleyici devlet
kapasitelerine kayıtsız kaldıklarından Gül Devrimi’ni eksik açıklamalarına neden
Tez, giri ve sonucun dıında altı ana bölümden olumaktadır. Bölüm 2 tezin
kuramsal çerçevesini gelitirmektedir. Bölüm 3 tarihsel arka planı tartımaktadır.
Bölüm 4 ‘Gül Devrimi’ne giden süreci incelemektedir. Bölüm 5 ve 6 ‘Gül
Devrimi’ni ve sonrasını analiz etmektedir. Sonuçtan önceki bölüm olan 7. Bölüm,
Gürcistan’ı diğer Sovyet sonrası ülkelerle karılatırmalı olarak analiz etmektedir.
Anahtar Kelimeler: Gürcistan, ‘Gül Devrimi’, tarihsel sosyoloji, devlet kapasitesi,
devlet özerkliği.
To My Beloved Daughter, Zeynep Ceyda
There are many professors and friends to whom I should express my
gratitude for their contributions to this study. First of all, I would like to express
my deepest thanks to my thesis supervisor, Associate Professor Dr. Oktay F.
Tanrısever for his invaluable encouragement, criticism and guidance. The
completion of this thesis would not have been possible without his help. He spent
hours to convince me to make the changes he regarded necessary, listening my
complaints, formulating solutions to the problems besides reading my lengthy
chapters. I am really grateful to him. Without his limitless help and whole-hearted
kindness, this dissertation could not have been written. I have learned a great deal
working with him and look forward to future collaborations. I also wish to thank
the members of my thesis committee: Prof. Dr. Meliha Altunıık, Prof. Dr. Kamer
Kasım, Associate Prof. Dr. Pınar Akçalı and Associate Prof. Dr. Ceylan
Tokluoğlu for their very useful comments and suggestions, which helped me
refine my ideas and arguments. They kindly spared time from their busy
schedules to read my dissertation and come to my dissertation defense. Special
thanks go to Prof. Dr. Kamer Kasım for traveling to Ankara several times to
attend my dissertation committees. I also deeply value and sincerely appreciate
Prof. Dr. Meliha Altunıık and Prof. Dr. Süha Bölükbaı’s insights, advices and
help over my undergraduate and graduate years. Together with Associate Prof. Dr.
Tanrısever, they have been my mentors. My sincere thanks are also due to the
other professors of the International Relations Department of Middle East
Technical University. Their kind support, guidance and patience over the years
have been of great value.
I do not have enough pages to list what my friends have done for me. The
list includes accompanying me during my stay in hospital, giving me hikes to
several places, giving invaluable comments and advices, providing
encouragement, fixing the computer before my defense presentation and editing
parts of my dissertation besides many other things. Berna Süer and my dear
roommates, Gülriz en, Ömür Atmaca, Ahu enses and Funda Hülagü deserve
special thanks for all these. I am also thankful to the other research assistants of
International Relations Department of Middle East Technical University, Pınar
Sinkaya, Özlem Kaplan, Bayram Sinkaya, Argun Bakan, Aslıgül Kaya, Özgür
Kaya, Derya Kap, Oben Kuyucu, Serdar Palabıyık, Feride Aslı Ergül, Đlhan
Sağsen and Hakan Karaaslan, for motivating and assisting me during the
completion of this thesis and of course for their friendship. I also want to thank
our dear secretaries, Mübin Yerlikaya and Tolunay Turhan, for their support.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank warmly Gülriz en, eniz
Bilgi and Marie Marcoux for proof reading some parts of my thesis. I am grateful
to them. I am also thankful to Yahya Zehir and Hüseyin Dereağ for
photocopying and binding various the drafts of this dissertation. I also want to
thank Nezihe Baak Ergin for the help she has given over the submission
I also owe great dept to my husband, Tolga Aydın, for his morale support,
patience and profound assistance. I really appreciate his help; his contribution to
this thesis has been decisive.
I have no proper words to express my indebtedness to my parents, who
supported me in every step of my way, believed in me and respected all my
choices and decisions. My father, Sıtkı eker, accompanied me on my visits to
Georgia for field research. He, my mother, Kadriye eker, my sister, Ferda eker,
and my brother, Fatih eker, comforted me when I was seriously anxious, shared
my sorrow and happiness and helped me with many things including travelling
from Erzurum to Ankara take me to the airport at 4 A.M.
Finally, I wish to express my love and thanks to my daughter, Zeynep
Ceyda, who seems to be growing into a wonderful human being, in spite of the
fact that her mother was less available than she should have been during the first
four years of her life. I could not have completed this study if Zeynep were not a
strong kid bearing not seeing her mother for a long time. I want to dedicate this
thesis to her for the time we spent apart during the completion of this study.
ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS ....................................................................................xi
1. INTRODUCTION............................................................................................1
1.1. Scope and Objective..................................................................................2
1.2. Literature Review......................................................................................5
1.3. Main Argument and Analytical Framework.............................................16
1.4. Methodology ...........................................................................................22
1.5 Structure of the Thesis..............................................................................24
2. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ..................................................................27
2.1. Introduction.............................................................................................27
2.2. Society-Centered Approaches to Regime Change ....................................27
2.3. Weaknesses of Society-Centered Approaches..........................................33
2.4. A State-Centered Approach to ‘Color Revolutions’ .................................39
2.4.1. Conceptualizing State Autonomy and Capacity to Analyze Regime
Trajectories ................................................................................................41
2.4.2. Components of State Capacity ..........................................................47
2.5. Conclusion ..............................................................................................60
3. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND....................................................................62
3.1. Introduction.............................................................................................62
3.2. History of Georgian Statehood.................................................................63
3.3. Relations with Minorities.........................................................................68
3.4. Emergence of the Opposition Groups and the Rise of Gamsakhurdia.......72
3.5. Brief Rule of Gamsakhurdia: War and Chaos...........................................79
3.6. 1991 Coup and the Ouster of Gamsakhurdia............................................84
3.7. Gamsakhurdia’s Legacy ..........................................................................87
3.8. Return of Shevardnadze...........................................................................91
3.9. Attempts at Consolidating Authority: 1991-1995.....................................93
3.10. From Relative Stability to Decay: 1995-1999 ......................................101
3.11. Conclusion ..........................................................................................106
4. THE PRELUDE TO THE ‘ROSE REVOLUTION’ .....................................108
4.1. Introduction...........................................................................................108
4.2. Loss of Control over Political Elite........................................................108
4.2.1. Emergence of Splits within the Ruling Elite....................................109
4.2.2. Rise of Reformers...........................................................................110
4.2.3. 1999 Parliamentary and 2000 Presidential Elections as Early Signs of
Shevardnadze’s Weakening......................................................................112
4.2.4. Deepening of the Rift in the CUG and the Departure of the Reformers
4.3. Citizen’s Mobilization against Shevardnadze: Rustavi-2 Crisis..............122
4.4. The Rise of Civil Society and the Media against the State......................128
4.4. Loss of State Autonomy vis-à-vis Social Forces ....................................133
4.5. Vulnerability of the State to External Pressures......................................141
4.6. Suspension of Western Support to Shevardnadze...................................146
4.7. Conclusion ............................................................................................153
5. THE ‘ROSE REVOLUTION’......................................................................155
5.1. Introduction...........................................................................................155
5.2. The Pre-Election Political Atmosphere: Political Parties and Major Lines of
5.3. The Elections.........................................................................................168
5.4. The Protests...........................................................................................174
5.5. Explaining the Success of the ‘Rose Revolution’ ...................................181
5.6. Presidential and Parliamentary Elections of 2004...................................188
5.7. Conclusion ............................................................................................191
6. POST-‘ROSE REVOLUTION’ REGIME TRAJECTORY...........................193
6.1. Introduction...........................................................................................193
6.2. Saakashvili’s Strategy of Strengthening of State Autonomy...................193
6.3. Alignment with the NATO and the US: An Effective Instrument to
Strengthen State Autonomy? ........................................................................206
6.4. Increasing State Control over Social Forces: Weakening of Civil Society
and Media ....................................................................................................212
6.5. Improving Economic Capacity...............................................................216
6.6. Extending State Control over Territory ..................................................222
6.7. The Road to War: Saakashvili’s Policies towards Abkhazia and South
Ossetia .........................................................................................................227
6.8. The Georgian Defeat in the 2008 Ossetian War .....................................230
6.9. Intensified Pressures after the August War.............................................233
6.10. State Autonomy and Post-‘Revolution’ Regime Trajectory..................236
6.11. Conclusion ..........................................................................................239
7.1. Introduction...........................................................................................241
7.2. Armenia ................................................................................................241
7.3. Azerbaijan.............................................................................................249
7.4. Uzbekistan.............................................................................................267
7.5. Ukraine..................................................................................................275
7.6. Belarus ..................................................................................................284
7.7. Russia....................................................................................................290
7.8. Conclusion ............................................................................................297
8. CONCLUSION............................................................................................300
REFERENCES ................................................................................................316
APPENDICES .................................................................................................366
A. TURKISH SUMARY..................................................................................366
B.CURICULUM VITAE .................................................................................386
Three post-Soviet country leaders were removed from power through
‘color revolutions’ between 2003 and 2005. First, Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze was removed from power through protests calling for his
resignation following the allegedly fraudulent elections in 2003. The events have
been called as the ‘Rose Revolution’. Afterwards, toppling of Leonid Kuchma of
Ukraine in 2004 and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan in 2005 were experienced.
These ‘color revolutions’ have been referred as the ‘Orange Revolution’ and
‘Tulip Revolution’, respectively. While the removal of these leaders emboldened
the oppositions in other post-Soviet countries, Kyrgyzstan proved to be the last
case of ‘color revolutions’ in the post-Soviet space. The efforts to remove
authoritarian leaders through protests proved to be abortive in Azerbaijan,
Armenia, Belarus, Russia and Uzbekistan. The incumbents countered the
challenges coming from the society effectively in these countries. As a result,
regime stability rather than change was observed.
Hardly any political development in the region has had a broad and serious
impact on the post-Soviet space than the ‘color revolutions’. Alarmed by the fall
of Shevardnadze, the presidents of other post-Soviet countries have taken various
measures to ensure their survival. Since the pro-Western leaders, especially in
Georgia and Ukraine, came to power as a result the ‘color revolutions’, the rivalry
between the United States (US) and Russia intensified. Moscow increased its
efforts to prevent encirclement with pro-Western regimes coming to power
through the color ‘revolutions’.
Due to its importance, the ‘color revolution’ phenomenon has turned out to
be one of the most widely discussed issues by political scientists, policy makers
and the media. The students of regime trajectories set out to explain the causes of
regime change or continuity in the face of the diffusion of ‘color revolutions’, the
reasons behind the divergence of regime outcomes in different post-Soviet
republics facing the same challenge and the nature of the regimes that have come
to power after the ‘revolutions’.
1.1. Scope and Objective
This study focuses on the dynamics shaping the regime trajectories in the
post-Soviet space in the face of anti-regime demonstrations. More specifically, it
explores the dynamics causing the removal of Shevardnadze from power in
Georgia through the ‘Rose Revolution’. In addition to the in-depth analysis of the
‘Rose Revolution’, it also briefly discusses the processes leading to the ‘Orange
Revolution’ and the ‘Tulip Revolution’ in Kyrgyzstan. Besides the dynamics
bringing about regime changes in these countries, the study also briefly touches
upon the reasons behind the regime stability in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Russia and Uzbekistan despite the threats to the regime as well. Lastly, the study
addresses whether the regime changes in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine
resulted in democratization.
‘Color revolution’ is a key phrase that appears frequently in this study.
Therefore, it is necessary to clarify what it really is to avoid ambiguity and
misguidance. The phrases ‘color revolution’, ‘Rose Revolution’, ‘Orange
Revolution’ and ‘Tulip Revolution’ are placed in quotation mark to indicate that
the study does not view the events that brought about the fall of Shevardnadze,
Kuchma and Akayev as real revolutions.
Although revolution has become a catchword in the literature to refer to
the ruling elite changes in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, this study avoids
approaching them as revolutions due to the differences of these phenomena from
the earlier revolutions. In the literature, revolution is generally described in line
with Samuel Huntington’s definition: “A revolution is a rapid, fundamental, and
violent domestic change in the dominant values and myths of a society, in its
political institutions, social structure, leadership, and government activity and
A very different picture emerges if one examines the Rose, Orange and
Tulip ‘Revolutions’. Shevardnadze, Kuchma and Akayev were removed from
power without violence. More importantly, these regime changes have not led to
fundamental changes in the social and political structure. Among the three, the
‘Rose Revolution’ resulted in more intensive changes including the re-imposing
control over previously uncontrolled areas, such as Adjaria, or increasing power
of the president at the expense of other branches. The governments that took
power in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine dissolved in 5 years time and they did not have
time for engineering wide scale changes. However, even the ‘Rose Revolution’
has remained short of introducing substantial changes in the class structures or the
political institutions as in the case of French and Bolshevik Revolutions. The
inappropriateness of considering the events in these countries as revolutions
becomes more apparent when one takes into account that the elite that came to
power through ‘color revolutions’ had once part of the regimes they removed
from power. As a result, this study will consider the ‘color revolutions’ as only
regime changes, i.e. replacements of incumbent governments with new ones.
It is
also necessary to add that different from the majority of the studies in the
literature, the study will approach these regime changes without democratization
bias. To be more specific, ‘color revolutions’ are approached as the change of the
holders of the state powers. A further examination will be carried out to see
whether these regime changes helped democratization, authoritarianism or
repetition of the governance practices of the old regime.
The objective of the study is to find an answer to the research question that
what caused the regime change in Georgia through the ‘Rose Revolution’ in 2003.
The study aims to provide a helpful analytical framework by moving beyond the
examination of causes and the actors that appear decisive on the surface. To this
end, it will engage in testing the explanatory framework used by both this study
and other studies in the literature by including the examination of regime
Samuel Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1968), p. 264.
The phrase ‘regime stability’ is used to refer to the survival of incumbents or to coming to power
of new presidents when the old leaders continue to exercise power behind the behind the scenes
and/or the status quo is maintained. The phrase regime trajectory’ will be used to refer to the
courses that regimes follow over time, which can include both change and stability.
trajectories in other countries that faced similar challenges because of the
diffusion of ‘color revolutions’ across the region. However, it is necessary to
emphasize that the analysis of regime trajectories in other countries will be quite
brief compared to Georgia. The study will only briefly examine the factors
shaping regime trajectories in other post-Soviet countries to show that whereas the
similarities with Shevardnadze’s Georgia brought about regime change,
differences in terms of explanatory variables used in this study resulted in regime
stability. In this way, the study aims to demonstrate that analytical framework
used to explain the ‘Rose Revolution’ is effective and alternative approaches are
inefficient in many ways.
For the brief comparative analysis, the dissertation chooses cases from the
region that show significant variation. As Chapter 7 will demonstrate better, the
countries selected show significant variation in terms of state capacity to
monopolize power and control, to ensure compliance through coercion, to extract
and distribute resources and regulate the behavior of individuals and groups and to
resist external pressures for regime change. Moreover, the study also includes
cases with different foreign policy orientations and different degrees of external
support for the regimes in power. In this way, the study tests the strength of the
main argument of the study developed on the basis of the case study of Georgia
against the cases showing variance in terms of both the state capacity and regime
Georgia is chosen as the main case to be examined because it is the first
example of ‘color revolution’ phenomena in the post-Soviet space and it had
important repercussions for the wider region both in terms of regime trajectories
and international politics. The Georgian ‘Rose Revolution’ is not a huge event
like the French or Bolshevik Revolution but like these revolutions, it has
implications going beyond national boundaries in the post-Soviet region.
Before the ‘Revolution’, Georgia was only a small and little studied former
Soviet Republic. The overthrow of Shevardnadze through a color ‘revolution’ and
the nature of the post-‘Revolution’ regime attracted the attention of political
scientists, leaders of other countries all around the world, especially in the post-
Soviet region and the media. Whereas the ‘Rose Revolution’ served as a model to
follow for the anti-regime forces in the rest of post-Soviet space, the autocrats set
out to strengthen their grip on power as they have attributed Shevardnadze’s fall
to his weakness. In another respect, the regime established in Georgia after the fall
of the previous leadership started to be examined carefully in wide circles in an
attempt to evaluate whether the ‘color revolutions’ in post-Soviet region can be
regarded as a positive step for democratization. Saakashvili regime provides clues
for whether the regimes created after the ‘color revolutions’ in the region will
contribute to the entrenchment of democratic values and practices or
authoritarianism. Lastly, the relations of the US and the European Union (EU)
with Saakashvili have sent messages for the post-Soviet countries intending to
forge closer relations with the West and Russia who opposes these relations. This
is especially valid for the former Soviet republics desiring the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) membership. Relations between Tbilisi and the
West also will influence the relations between the US, European countries and
1.2. Literature Review
This section is devoted to exploring the existing studies on the ‘Rose
Revolution’. In the literature, three types of studies can be found: the studies that
exclusively focus on the ‘Rose Revolution’, the ones that include the analysis of
other color revolutions in post-Soviet space besides it and analyses that account
for the dynamics that brought regime change and stability in countries that
became the scene of anti-regime protests. This study will include all these three
kinds of studies in the literature review that follows.
As far as the main explanatory variable used to account for the dynamics
leading to the ‘Rose Revolution’ are concerned, two broad trends can be identified
in the literature. Whereas some studies emphasize the role of societal dynamics in
the ‘Rose Revolution’, other studies advocate that ‘Rose Revolution’ can be
understood better by focusing on the dynamics associated with the state in
Georgia rather the society. While the first group of the studies will be called as
society-centered, the second group will be referred as state-centered in this study.
This section will shed light on the ascendancy of society-centered
approaches with the unfolding of ‘color revolutions’ including the ‘Rose
Revolution’, the reaction of the state-centered camp to society-centered studies
and the weaknesses of existing studies to suggest ways to overcome these
weaknesses through an alternative approach to be offered in the next section.
The tendency to use either society or state-centered approach to explain
regime trajectories can also be identified in the literature over post-Soviet political
transition process.
Before the onset of the ‘color revolutions’, transitology
approach was widely used to account for the political transition in the region.
According to the transitologists, the appropriate way to understand transitions is to
focus on the role of the elites and the interactions among them.
It is appropriate
to consider this approach as state-centered since it has viewed the transition to be
initiated by the divisions in the state elite rather than the societal mechanisms. In
transitology societal mobilization was approached as a factor that can endanger
rather than contribute to the successful transition by spoiling the pacts between the
Mass mobilization in the context of the ‘color revolutions’, especially
incumbent resignations in the face of mass protests following flawed elections led
an increasing number of scholars to attack anti-mass mobilization stance of the
transitology approach. When the faith in the power of the society received a boost
with the unfolding of electoral protests and the regime changes that followed, the
pendulum has swung towards society-centered explanations to political change in
post-Soviet space. Mass mobilization spreading through regional diffusion,
strength and unity of the opposition and media have come to be increasingly
referred as keys to the success of the overthrow attempts.
As a prominent advocate of society-centered approach, Valerie Bunce
underscored the role of diffusion mechanisms in stimulating mass mobilization
against the incumbents and creating regime change in the wave of ‘color
revolutions’. Together with Sharon L. Wolchik, Bunce argued that the activists
which participated in earlier ‘color revolutions’ in Slovakia and Serbia both
In this study, the term ‘transition’ refers to as an open-ended process, not inevitably destined to
arrive at establishment of a democratic system.
This understanding is exemplified by Terry Lynn Karl, Dilemmas of Democratization in Latin
America”, Comparative Politics, Vol. 23, No. 11 (October 1990), pp. 1–21 and Terry Lynn Karl
and Philippe C. Schmitter Karl, Modes of Transition in Latin America, Southern and Eastern
Europe,” International Social Science Journal, Vol. 43, No. 2 (May 1991), pp. 269–284.
inspired the Georgian activists in Kmara (Enough)
and shared their experiences
and tactics with them. The impact of this diffusion proved to be highly important
in the writers’ opinion as the tactics that the young Georgian activist borrowed
were instrumental in revealing the ineffectiveness of the corrupt and authoritarian
Shevardnadze regime.
As another member of the society-centered camp, Giorgi Kandelaki
similarly put emphasis on the role that Kmara played in the ‘Rose Revolution’ as
portraying it as an essential actor providing the mobilization of the Georgian
society by combating the pervasive apathy.
Before the ‘color revolutions’, Michael McFaul had focused on the
balance of power between democrats and authoritarians to account for regime
trajectories in post-Soviet region. After the ‘color revolutions’, he formulated a
new framework, which was widely cited in the literature, to account for the
regime changes in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. In his latter studies he
emphasizes the importance of seven conditions for the success of ‘color
revolutions’: a semi-autocratic regime, an unpopular incumbent, a united and
organized opposition, an ability to quickly convince the public that voting results
were falsified, an independent media to inform citizens about the vote fraud, an
opposition capable of mobilizing tens of thousands of demonstrators to protest
electoral fraud and divisions in the armed forces.
His underscoring of common features that the countries that experience
regime including Georgia shared needs thorough inquiry. It is necessary to
examine whether the oppositions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan were as
united as McFaul suggested in reality or the free media really existed in all three
countries and played the roles discussed by the writer. Likewise, he does not
Kmara was the main anti-Shevardnadze youth group during the ‘Rose Revolution’.
Valerie Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik, “Youth and Electoral Revolutions in Slovakia, Serbia,
and Georgia”, SAIS Review, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Summer-Fall 2006), pp. 59, 60.
Giorgi Kandelaki, “Georgia’s Rose Revolution: A Participant’s Perspective”, Special Report, No.
167, United States University of Peace (July 2006), pp. 5-8.
Michael McFaul, “The Second Wave of Democratic Breakthroughs in the Post-Communist
World: Comparing Serbia 2000, Georgia 2003, Ukraine 2004, and Kyrgyzstan 2005”,
Danyliw/Jacyk Working Papers, No. 4 (Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies,
University of Toronto, 2005), pp. 3-4.
provide an effective explanation for why some countries survived in the face of
weaker anti-regime mobilizations whereas others survived despite they confront
stronger protests.
McFaul’s studies also lack causal depth. He does not provide a theoretical
framework to understand why the media function independently in some post-
communist countries but not in others or why the international election observers
were allowed to observe the elections in some post-Soviet states but blocked in
some others. Moreover, he does not bother to explain why anti-regime
mobilization was strong in some countries whereas it was weak in some others.
Mark R. Beissinger also joined the scholars who emphasize the role of
opposition protests, or the societal factors to say it another way, in regime changes
in the wave of ‘color revolutions’. As in the case of Bunce and Wolchik, he
attributes special importance to the role of diffusion in the spread of anti-regime
mobilizations across the region. In “Structure and Example in Modular Political
Phenomena: The Diffusion of Bulldozer/Rose/Orange/Tulip Revolutions”, he
reveals this by arguing that the influence of the example can make up for domestic
disadvantages in a country. According to him, the local groups can overcome
difficulties in the area of collective action by making use of the experiences of the
earlier successful ‘revolutions’. He further underlined the role of regional
diffusion by advocating that without the inspiration and experience drawn from
the previous cases, there would be more cases of unsuccessful overthrow attempts
or fewer efforts to remove incumbents through mass protests.
He states that the
model that introduced by the Serbian ‘Bulldozer Revolution’ and followed by
activists in other countries such as Georgia is marked by six elements: the use of
stolen elections to mobilize the masses against the regime, foreign support for the
local opposition movements, radical youth movements using unusual protest
strategies, united opposition, massive electoral monitoring and wide-scale
mobilization after the announcement of falsified election results.
As in the case
of McFaul, Beissinger regards technical and financial support from the foreign
Mark R. Beissinger, “Modular Political Phenomena: The Diffusion of Bulldozer/Rose/Orange/
Tulip Revolutions”, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 4, No. 2 (June 2007), p. 260.
Ibid., p. 261.
governments, mainly the US government, as a critical factor in the strengthening
of the anti-regime forces in the society besides cross-border sharing.
With his exclusive focus on the influence of the experiences created by
the successful ‘revolutions’, Beissinger ignores that incumbents in the post-Soviet
space also take lessons from the removal of their counterparts in other countries
and strengthen state structures to avoid a similar fate. Moreover, as in the case of
McFaul, the features shared by the countries experienced regime change, such as
united opposition, are too easily generalized by Beissinger.
Michael Simecka gives another example of society-centered explanations
for the ‘Rose Revolution’ in particular and the ‘color revolutions’ in general. In
his article, Simecka underscores the utility of focusing on the dynamics of
mobilization in the context of intraregional diffusion to understand regime
changes in Georgia and Ukraine. Like Beissinger, he draws attention to the ways
that the two youth movements in Georgia and Ukraine, Kmara and Pora (It’s
Time), were inspired and trained by their Serbian counterpart Otpor (Resistance)
As another common point with Beissinger, who advocated that
diffusion can compensate for domestic structural disadvantages, he argues that
diffusion can bring even a relatively underdeveloped civil society into action.
What he ignores is the fact that although diffusion is really influential in
mobilizing the society in post-Soviet world, effectiveness of the anti-regime
mobilization is causing regime change varies from case to case and there is the
need to shed light on the factors bringing about this variance.
Joshua A. Tucker is another writer that emphasizes the role of the society
rather than the state in ‘color revolutions’, including the ‘Rose Revolution’. Due
to the importance he attributed to the role of mass protests in the success of the
‘color revolutions’, he focuses on motivation of the masses to participate in the
protest or collective action problem. In “Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective
Action Problems, and Post-Communist Color Revolutions”, he focuses on why
protestors choose to take to the streets following instances of electoral fraud in
countries like Georgia which experienced regime change as a result of popular
Michael Simecka,Diffusion and Civil Society Mobilization in Color Revolutions”, Central and
Eastern European Political Science Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1(2009), p. 3.
protest. He argues that the citizens, which had tolerated the abuses of the
government, can rise against the incumbent regimes and say enough as in the case
of Georgia following the fraudulent elections. For him, electoral fraud caused
mass mobilization because it decreased the cost of participating into the protest
and mass mobilization and increased the expected benefits.
He does not take
into account that the 2003 elections, which led to the removal of Shevardnadze,
was not the first fraudulent elections in Georgia and post-election protests failed
to cause incumbent removals in some other post-Soviet countries. It is required to
shed light on the factors that determine the success of mass protests.
Though less concerned with diffusion dynamics, Ghia Nodia also opted for
explaining the regime change in Georgia by relying on society-centered
explanations. In “Breaking the Mold of Powerlessness: The Meaning of Georgia’s
Latest Revolution”, he argues that the success of the ‘Rose Revolution’ was
centered on the strengthening of three major societal actors thanks to the
permissive environment under Shevardnadze: the political opposition, the media
and civil society organizations. Whereas the political opposition offered the
leadership, media was influential in delegitimizing the regime and mobilizing the
masses and the civil society prepared the ground through civic education and
ensured the better organization of the protests during the ‘Revolution’.
societal forces played important roles in the ‘Rose Revolution’ in line with the
argument of the author, it is necessary to take into account that the same forces
failed to realize removal of Mikheil Saakashvili from power and the societal
forces in other countries remained short of realizing regime change. It is required
to find out what changed in post-‘Revolution’ Georgia and what brought about the
failure of societal forces in other countries.
This exclusive preoccupation with societal factors soon led to the reaction
of a limited number of scholars. As these writers drive attention to the role of state
in shaping regime trajectories in the face of threats posed by the ‘color
Joshua A. Tucker, “Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective Action Problems, and Post-Communist
Color Revolutions”, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 5, No. 3 (2007), p. 536.
Ghia Nodia, “Breaking the Mold of Powerlessness: The Meaning of Georgia’s Latest
Revolution” in Zurab Karumidze and James V. Wertsch Enough! The Rose Revolution in the
Republic of Georgia 2003 (Nova Science Publishers, Inc.: 2005), p. 102.
revolutions’, they constitute the state-centered literature on the ‘color revolutions’
in general and the ‘Rose Revolution’, in particular.
As a pioneer of this approach, Mark N. Katz suggested paying close
attention to coercive apparatus of the state. He argued that the degree of solidarity
between the regime and the armed forces determined the outcomes of the
overthrow attempts within the context of ‘color revolutions’. He considered the
defections from the security forces to the opposition as a key factor for the success
of the overthrow attempts and attributed the variance of political outcomes in the
face of ‘color revolutions’ to the differences among post-Soviet countries in this
The studies by Lucan A. Way and Steven Levitsky also have an important
place in the literature that developed in reaction to society-centered accounts on
the ‘color revolutions’. In “The Dynamics of Autocratic Coercion after the Cold
War”, they underlined the need to understand why some regimes are less
vulnerable to diffusion, the mass protests and foreign pressures than the others
In their opinion, the answer to this question lies in the differences in the
coercive capacities of the state in question. They argue that coercive state
capacity, which is centered on cohesion and scope, has often been more
significant than the opposition strength in determining whether autocrats fall or
remain in power. Whereas high degrees of cohesion enables the incumbents to
carry on risky measures such as firing on large crowds thanks to compliance
within the coercive apparatus, high scope allows the ruling elite to penetrate large
parts of society through a well-trained coercive apparatus.
Levitsky and Way point out that although Armenian ruling elite faced a
fairly better mobilized opposition compared to Georgia since independence, it was
able to sideline the challengers. Thanks to the effective coercive apparatus, which
consists of police, military and Yekrapah Union of Karabagh Veterans and applies
Mark N. Katz, “Democratic Revolutions: Why Some Succeed, Why Others Fail”, World Affairs,
Vol. 166, No. 3 (2004), pp. 163-170.
Lucan A. Way and Steven Levitsky, “The Dynamics of Autocratic Coercion after the Cold
War”, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39 (2006), p. 387.
harsh measures including firing at the protestors, the protests were quickly
To the contrary, Shevardnadze regime dissolved in the face of
relatively weak opposition protests due to suffering from a coercive apparatus
lacking both cohesion and scope.
In their examination of the dynamics that
brought the end of the Kuchma regime in Ukraine and the stability of the
Lukashenko regime in Belarus despite the post-election protests, they also
emphasize the role of the coercive state capacity as a source of regime stability.
As for the case of Ukraine, they argue that Kuchma regime fell as a result of
electoral protests because there was not a unifying point like an ideology or a
victory over a common enemy that would provide cohesion in the armed forces.
Although Ukrainian coercive apparatus had an extensive reach, this did not suffice
to save the regime. In their analysis of Belarus, the writers argue that Lukashenko
regime survived thanks to the extensive reach of the coercive apparatus.
Nevertheless, they fail to explain why high cohesion sufficed to bring regime
stability in Belarus but not in Ukraine.
Although Levitsky and Way articulated their emphasis on the weakness of
the coercive state apparatus in a more comprehensive and clear way than others,
they were not alone in their underscoring of the role of lack of coercive capacity
in bringing about fall of post-Soviet authoritarian incumbents. Lack of violence
during the ‘Rose Revolution’ led many scholars to conclude that use of force was
not experienced during the protests because Shevardnadze was not able to realize
this. Lincoln Mitchell argues that although Shevardnadze announced that he
resigned to avoid bloodshed, he kept away from using violence because “he was
too weak to command use of force”.
Fairbanks also believes that avoiding of
violence in the Rose ‘Revolution’ was due to the unavailability of coercive power.
He argues that Shevardnadze most probably intended to use force but the armed
Ibid., p. 402.
Ibid, p. 407.
Lincoln Mitchell, “Georgia’s Rose Revolution”, Current History, Vol. 103 (October 2004), p.
forces did not obey his orders.
Hale seems to endorse this view since he
underlines that Shevardnadze was not a tolerant leader but he lacked the necessary
instruments to repress the anti-regime forces.
As a response to arguments of these scholars that Shevardnadze avoided
use of force due to the weakness of state coercive capacity at his disposal, Corry
Welt suggested to reconsider the argument that Shevardnadze was a dictator and
he would not have hesitated to cause violence if he had enough force. He points
out that there is some evidence that Shevardnadze had still the control of some
parts of the armed forces until the end. He emphasizes that it can be his choice to
avoid use of force by declining to order these loyal forces to use force.
although both Way and Welt offer a state-centered account for the success of the
‘Revolution’ by underlining the importance of the non-use of force, whereas Way
approaches the weakness of coercive apparatus as the main reason behind this,
Welt attributes it to the unwillingness of Shevardnadze.
Before moving on to identifying the weaknesses of the existing state-
centered literature further, it is necessary to assess their contributions in general.
First of all, this literature showed that societal factors (mass mobilization within
the context of regional diffusion and the coalition of media, civil society and the
opposition, which were sometimes propped up by foreign governments) do not by
themselves account for the real mechanisms bringing about regime changes in
post-Soviet space. By bringing in the cases where the regimes survived despite the
stronger protests compared to Georgia, these studies demonstrated that only under
state weaknesses these revolutionary societal forces take effect.
Some members
Charles H. Fairbanks, “Georgia’s Rose Revolution”, Journal of Democracy, Volume 15,
Number 2 (April 2004), p. 117.
Henry E. Hale, “Democracy or Autocracy on the March? The Color Revolutions as Normal
Dynamics of Patronal Presidentialism”, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3
(September 2006), p. 324
Cory Welt, Georgia: Causes of the Rose Revolution and Lessons for Democracy Assistance,
(Washington: Unites States Agency for International Development, 2005), pp. 11, 12.
Lucan A. Way, “The Real Causes of Color Revolutions”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 19, No. 3
(July 2008), p. 59 and Menno Fenger, “The Diffusion of Revolutions: Comparing Recent Regime
Turnovers in Five Post-Communist Countries”, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet
Democratization, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2007), pp. 5-28.
of this camp argued that ‘revolutionaries seldom make revolutions but
governments in power do and underlined that Shevardnadze and Akayev were
removed from power not as a result of the unwavering efforts by the opposition
but unwillingness on the part of state institutions to defend them.
Moreover, state-centered literature showed that the explanatory variables
used by the society-centered analyses can not bear close examination, as they are
not empirically grounded contrary to the perceptions of the scholars attributed
great significance to them. Donnacha Ó Beacháin pointed out that during the
‘Rose Revolution’ and the ‘Tulip Revolution’, the opposition parties could not act
in a coordinated way and their leaders could not agree on how to react to the
elections results.
In this way, she refuted the assumptions of the scholars that
approached the opposition unity as a pre-condition for the success of the attempts
at regime change, Similarly, Scott Radnitz in “What Really Happened in
Kyrgyzstan” mentioned that an independent media did not exist in Akayev’s
Kyrgyzstan and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) played only a marginal
role in the ‘Tulip Revolution’.
Lastly, this literature also contested the notion of linear historical progress
inherent in the society-centered literature. Whereas the society-centered analyses
approached the ‘color revolutions’ as democratic breakthroughs, state-centered
studies draw attention to regression, stagnation, or multi-linear tracks of
development observed in their aftermath.
This can be considered a significant
Donnacha Ó Beacháin, “Roses and Tulips: Dynamics of Regime Change in Georgia and
Kyrgyzstan”, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Vol. 25, No. 2-3(June-
September 2009), p. 202.
Ibid., p. 199.
Scott Radnitz, “What Really Happened in Kyrgyzstan?”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 2(
April 2006), p. 138.
For the examples of the studies which do not perceive the color Revolutions as inevitable
democratic breakthroughs or draw attention to increasing authoritarianism in their wake please see
Scott Radnitz, “What Really Happened in Kyrgyzstan?”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 2 (
April 2006), pp. 132-144, Mark N. Katz, “Revolutionary Change in Central Asia”, World Affairs,
Vol. 168, No. 4 (Spring 2006), pp. 157-171, Lincoln A. Mitchell, “Democracy in Georgia since
the Rose Revolution” , Orbis, Vol. 50, No. 4 (Autumn 2006), pp. 669-676, Charles H. Fairbanks,
“Revolution Reconsidered”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 18, No. 1 (2007), pp., 42–57, Theodor
Tudoroiu, “Rose, Orange, and Tulip: The Failed Post-Soviet Revolutions”, Communist and Post-
Communist Studies, Vol. 40 (2007) pp. 315-342. Vicken Cheterian,Georgia's Rose Revolution:
Change or Repetition? Tension between State-Building and Modernization Projects”, Nationalities
progress because society-centered studies approached the events with enthusiasm
and pictured them as democratic advances achieved by the democracy-thirsty
post-Soviet societies.
The existing state-centered literature made great contributions to the
understanding of the ‘Rose Revolution’ by drawing attention to the role of state,
but it is still necessary to discuss their weaknesses. Levitsky and Way attribute
great significance to the scope of the coercive state apparatus in keeping anti-
regime movements under control but Armenia and Uzbekistan experienced strong
protests although the regimes in these countries enjoy coercive apparatuses with
the ability to infiltrate deeply into the society, or high scope in the
conceptualization of these writers.
These writers also argue that solidarity bounds formed during the periods
of war are critical for ensuring cohesion. According to them, the regimes with
armed forces that had not won a military victory will be less likely to repress
massive protests.
The successful suppression of opposition protests in countries
like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Saakashvili’s Georgia demonstrate that
military victory is not that important for repressing the anti-regime
In one of his recent studies Way acknowledged that Ukrainian coercive
apparatus was better funded than its counterparts in Serbia, Georgia and
Kyrgyzstan and did not experience wage arrears. Moreover, as he mentions, the
Ukrainian coercive agency did not surrender easily and continued to guard the
governmental buildings during 18-day continuous demonstrations.
In this way,
his recent analysis shows that the analytical framework he developed earlier with
Papers, Vol. 36, No. 4 (September 2008), pp. 689 – 712 and Katya Kalandadze and Mitchell A.
Orenstein, “Electoral Protests and Democratization Beyond the Color Revolutions”, Political
Studies Vol. 42 (2009), pp. 1403-1425.
Lucan A. Way and Steven Levitsky, “The Dynamics of Autocratic Coercion after the Cold
War”, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39 (2006), p. 396 and Lucan A. Way,
“Debating the Color Revolutions: A Reply to My Critics”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 20, No.
1(January 2009), p. 94.
Lucan A. Way, “Debating the Color Revolutions: A Reply to My Critics”, Journal of
Democracy, Vol. 20, No. 1(January 2009), pp. 94 and 95.
Levitsky needs some improvement as Ukraine experienced regime change in spite
of the strength of the coercive state apparatus.
Thus, considering political outcomes in other post-Soviet countries in the
face of mass protests besides the ‘Rose Revolution’ reveals the problems inherent
in existing state-centered literature on the regime change in Georgia. This is valid
for both the studies highlighting the weakness of the coercive state capacity and
the unwillingness of Shevardnadze to use force. Because of their exclusive focus
on the non-use of force during the protests, the existing state-centered studies
missed the real dynamics that made it impossible for the Shevardnadze regime to
survive. This literature has made an important improvement over the society-
centered one but their analytical framework need to be broadened.
It was the state breakdown in broader terms rather than the weaknesses of
the coercive apparatus or unwillingness to use of force that made the
Shevardnadze regime defenseless against the protestors. It does not make sense to
discuss whether Shevardnadze had the control of enough loyal forces because at
the time of protest the regime were facing problems going beyond the suppression
of demonstrations. It was the incapacitation of the Georgian state in various fields
in addition to the coercive weakness and the resulting loss of state autonomy that
brought the end of regime. It is necessary to focus on the extreme weakness of the
Georgian state created by incapacitation and lack of autonomy to understand the
real dynamics behind the regime change in the country rather than focusing on the
societal forces. Starting with the next section, this study will embark on this task.
1.3. Main Argument and Analytical Framework
This study advocates moving beyond the society-centered and the existing
state-centric approaches to understand the real mechanisms that cause ‘color
revolutions’. Within this framework, the main argument of the study is that
contrary to the society-centered analyses, which suggest that mobilization of the
society through the diffusion of ‘color revolutions’ brought about the ‘Rose
Revolution’, the coercive, administrative, extractive, distributive and regulative
incapacitation of state (rather than merely coercive incapacitation as suggested by
existing state-centered studies) resulted in the loss of state autonomy vis-à-vis
domestic and external political actors before the ‘Revolution’ and led to the
removal of Shevardnadze. Society-centered approaches focus on the role of social
forces to account for ‘Revolution’ but they fail to realize that the forces only
exploited the power vacuum created by the breakdown of state. Looking from
another perspective, lack of use of force during the events led many studies to
focus on the weakness of the coercive state capacity, but at that time, the
Shevardnadze regime was facing problems going beyond the suppression of the
protests. Guided by this main argument, the study will examine the process
preparing the loss of Georgian state autonomy towards the ‘Rose Revolution’.
In some way, state-centered studies by Katz, Levitsky and Way can be
considered a reintroduction of the analysis of a key historical sociologist, Theda
Skocpol, to the study of the ‘color revolutions’. Katz, Levitsky and Way like
Skocpol before them focus on the state breakdown rather than social forces as the
central dynamic accounting for the regime changes. However, the successors of
Skocpol analyzing ‘color revolutions’ approach the state breakdown in a narrower
sense than her. Their narrower focus makes it difficult to understand the real
dynamics leading to the success of ‘color revolutions’ in their studies. This study
advocates returning to the state-centered analysis that Skocpol provided within the
framework of historical sociology to account for the ‘Rose Revolution’
When the studies of Skocpol is examined it is seen than she conceives the
state as a set of legal, administrative, extractive and coercive institutions and
rather than merely as a coercive organ.
Whereas Skocpol argues that the
fundamental cause of the social revolutions proved to be the incapacitation of
legal, administrative, extractive and coercive machineries of the state, the latter
group of studies exclusively focused on coercive organs of state. Due to their
narrow focus on the weakness on the coercive state apparatus to explain the
authoritarian removals in the region, existing state-centered studies remain short
For the examples of studies of Theda Skocpol that approach state in this way include France,
Russia, China: A Structural Analysis of Social Revolutions”, Comparative Studies in Society and
History, Vol. 18, No. 2 (April 1976), pp. 175-210, “State and Revolution: Old Regimes and
Revolutionary Crises in France, Russia, and China”, Theory and Society, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (January-
March 1979), pp. and "Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research." in
Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In,
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 1985), pp. 3- 37.
of providing a comprehensive and guiding analytical framework. To provide a
better account of the ‘color revolutions’ and to illuminate the weaknesses of
existing approaches, the remainder of the section will provide a discussion on
contributions of historical sociology to the study of regime trajectories and
relations among state, society and international forces.
Choosing historical sociology as the main framework for analysis for
‘color revolutions’ is based on several grounds. First of all, it is related with the
introduction of regime change as a subject matter to International Relations
discipline (IR) by historical sociologists. The neo-realism, the dominant paradigm
of the IR throughout the Cold War period, secured the exclusion of the study of
the regime changes from the subject matter of the discipline.
The pioneer of the
paradigm, Kenneth Waltz, ruled out theorizing about international relations by
paying attention to the internal character of the units. He labeled the theories that
tried to explain international politics by drawing insights from the what is going
on inside the states as ‘reductionist’ and advocated that student of IR have to use
‘systemic’ theories. He supported the necessity of the systemic theories by
arguing that international relations show regularity despite the variations in the
character of its units (states). Thus, for him, it is not necessary to look inside the
states to understand international relations; one has to focus on the systemic level
Due to the dominance of neo-realism, IR was defined as a discipline
interested in the (external) relations between the states. Since regime changes
were considered as domestic phenomena, their study was avoided by the
mainstream IR.
Since the end of 1980s, new approaches to the study of IR started to be
formulated by theorists as a result of the dissatisfaction with the positivist
frameworks dominating the field. As the dominant Realist paradigm failed to
explain the end of Cold War and the wide scale changes unleashed by it, scholars
Maryam H. Panah, “Social Revolution: The Elusive Emergence of an Agenda in International
Relations”, Review of International Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (April 2002), p. 274.
Fred Halliday, “Theorizing the International”, Economy and Society, Vol. 18, No. 3 (August
1989), p. 354.
Maryam H. Panah, “Social Revolution: The Elusive Emergence of an Agenda in International
Relations”, Review of International Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (April 2002), p. 274.
have turned to alternative theoretical frameworks offering novel perspectives on
what constitutes the subject matter of the discipline and how it should be studied.
Besides critical approaches, international political economy, feminist and
environmentalist theorizing, historical sociology found a way in into the discipline
in this environment.
Historical sociology criticized the exclusive preoccupation with power
politics prevalent in the field and contributed to the field by offering a theoretical
perspective on state development and socio-political change.
Orthodox IR approached the historically produced structures, such as state and
anarchy, as unchangeable and given by nature. By emphasizing structural
continuity and repetition, the conventional IR theories reified them.
As a result,
theories like neo-realism proved to be ineffective in accounting for change.
Historical sociology assigned great significance to the study of history because of
its concern of problematizing and critically surveying the origins of the modern
domestic and international institutions such as state and the anarchic system of
states and tracking their change over time.
Historical sociologists criticized the mainstream by pointing out that
although the state is a central concept for this tradition, it is under-theorized. State
is merely portrayed as a unitary actor that occupies a territorial space. Moreover,
as they posit, conventional IR theories draw a clear boundary between domestic
and international. For the realists, whereas the domestic realm is characterized by
hierarchy, anarchy prevails in the latter. By contrast, historical sociologists view
Stephen Hobden, International Relations and Historical Sociology: Breaking Down Boundaries
(London and New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 1.
Ibid., p. 2 and Martin Shaw, “The Historical Transition of Our Times: The Question of Globality
In Historical Sociology”, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Vol. 14, No. 2 (March
2001), p. 286.
George Lawson, “Historical Sociology in International Relations: Open Society, Research
Programme and Vocation”, International Politics, Vol. 44 (July 2007), p. 346.
George Sørensen, “IR Theory after the Cold War”, Review of International Studies, Vol. 24, No.
5 (1998), pp. 85, 86.
John M. Hobson, “Debate: The 'Second Wave' of Weberian Historical Sociology - The
Historical Sociology of the State and the State of Historical Sociology in International Relations”,
Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 5, No. 2 (April 1998), p. 286.
the state as a set of institutions competing for sources with other groups in the
domestic realm as well as with other states in the international arena. It is not seen
as a territorial and social totality. The state is taken as a historical structure which
is in constant competition with society and external powers. Weberian historical
sociologists have shown that the modern state is not a natural product of liberal
social contract but the output of the competition of power centers vying for
control over one another.
Historical sociologist put forward that there are different sources of power
(economic, military and ideological) and in all of these power domains there can
be rivals to the state and emergence of alternative loyalties. In the economic
realm, different power centers might comprise the authority of the state and
increase their strength at the expense of state. Social power centers such as tribes,
ethnic or religious groups can compete with the state for the allegiance of the
citizens. Thus, domestic realm may not be in the hierarchical as alleged by the
realists. The notions based on the Westphalian state system, which sees the state
as an actor that established control over its territory once for all, may not be valid
for all cases.
To ground these arguments, historical sociologists refer to the situation in
Middle Ages where spheres of jurisdictions overlapped and non-state actors
provided public services or enjoyed coercive capacity. As they point out,
medieval system was marked by a hybrid of anarchy and hierarchy and whether
the actors operated under anarchy or hierarchy depended on the domain of action.
For instance, before the establishment of feudal hierarchy, in political domain
lords did not recognize a superior authority above them but respond to the papal
calls for crusades.
As sources of power and actors holding them are multiple, they interact
and shape each other in complex ways. It does not make sense to view the actors
and their capacities as wholly autonomous and self-constitutive. As in the case of
Ibid., p. 287.
Hendrik Spruyt, “Historical Sociology and Systems Theory in International Relations”, Review
of International Political Economy, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer 1998), p. 344.
Ibid., p. 343.
domestic and international realms, which constantly interact and shape one
another, the actors in different power realms interact and their interactions change
one another.
These insights of historical sociology are useful for the purposes of this
study. As guided by historical sociologists such as Theda Skocpol, Michael Mann,
Charles Tilly and Joel S. Migdal this study will approach state and society as in
constant interaction and competition for power with each other. The notions of
capacity and autonomy will be taken as multi-dimensional and an examination of
capacities of both society and state in different power domains will be provided.
Rather than focusing exclusively on the coercive power as the coercive state
capacity-centric analyses on ‘color revolutions’ do, this study will focus on
administrative, regulative, extractive and distributive components of state capacity
besides the coercive dimension and explore how incapacitation of Georgian state
in all these dimensions brought about the ousting of Shevardnadze. Moreover, the
study will also examine how the power relations in one domain condition the
interactions in other domain. For example, the study will explore how the
capacities of state and societal actors in economic domain have conditioned their
autonomy vis-à-vis each other competition areas like imposing control over
territory and population and use of force. Other post-Soviet states will be
compared and contrast with the state in Georgia to see whether they gained
success in their struggle against competing power centers in the society and how
their performance shaped the fate of regimes in power when they faced mass
This study will also approach international and domestic realms as
mutually constitutive. Approaching the state and society as well as domestic and
international realms as mutually constitutive in States and Social Revolutions
enabled Theda Skocpol to provide a guiding framework to understand revolutions.
In contrast to the analyses of revolutions that exclusively focus domestic level
causal mechanisms, Skocpol included both domestic and international factors that
prepared them. In a way that is quite different from the traditional IR theories,
Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power, Vol. 2: The Rise of Classes and Nation States,
1760-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 725.
Skocpol showed how international realm shaped the domestic realm by creating
pressures that contributed to the outbreak of revolutions. She also demonstrated
how the domestic realm shaped the international by emphasizing that revolutions
at home create inspirations and models that go beyond the boundaries of the
revolutionary states.
Thus, Skocpol pointed out that societies and the state institutions are
shaped by the international forces and they condition the international realm. With
this analysis, she refuted the realist assumptions that picture the domestic and
international realms as self-constitutive and clearly separated from each other. In
line with her understanding, the study will approach the ‘Rose Revolution’ as a
phenomenon in which international influences play important roles. It will
examine how the diffusion of revolutionary ideas and international pressures that
cause state breakdown contributed to the regime change in Georgia. However, the
study will show that only when state is weak, which is best illustrated by the
situation of Georgian state under Shevardnadze, diffusion of ‘revolutions’ yields
results and society succeeds in bringing down the autocrats. The study will also
show how domestic realm shapes the international realm by discussing how the
‘Rose Revolution’ affected the developments at the international level, by setting
a model for the anti-regime forces in other post-Soviet countries and increasing
the competition between the US and Russia in the region.
1.4. Methodology
This study employs case study method to show that it is necessary to focus
on the state capacity and autonomy instead of the societal mobilization to account
for the dynamics bringing about the ‘color revolutions’.
As discussed, Georgia is chosen as the main case to be examined because
the ‘Rose Revolution’ is the first example of ‘color revolutions’ in post-Soviet
space and it has seriously affected the regional dynamics. There are also
methodological reasons behind choosing Georgia as the main case. As will be
discussed in detail, before the ‘Revolution’, Georgian state was very weak in all
aspects of state capacity and this resulted in loss of autonomy vis-à-vis domestic
and external anti-regime forces. Therefore, Georgia emerges as a perfect case to
examine how different aspects of state weakness become instrumental in bringing
about regime change. Georgian experience is also useful for examining how
changes in different components of state capacity can influence regime
trajectories. Lastly, Georgian experience clearly shows how state weakness in
various dimensions can lead the students of the regime trajectories to regard the
societal actors as omnipotent.
It is also necessary to discuss the reasons for choosing Azerbaijan,
Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan the countries to
compare with Georgia. In its first years of independence, Azerbaijan followed a
similar course of political trajectory with Georgia. Therefore, it makes sense to
compare Azerbaijan with Georgia to find out what differences in the later stages
of independence period led to the regime stability in Azerbaijan despite strong
protests. Armenia also became the scene of strong protests-even stronger than the
ones in Georgia. Therefore, the regime stability in Armenia is puzzling.
Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine are the two other countries that experienced regime
change through the ‘color revolutions’ and it is necessary to examine whether the
explanatory variables of the study can account for the dynamics bringing about
regime change in these countries as well. Russia has become the leader of anti-
revolutionary camp in the post-Soviet space due to strengthening of state in
various domains. Thus, it is useful to compare it with Georgia to show how
Russia’s differences with Georgia with respect to different components of state
capacity carried the county to this position.
Lastly, in overall, these countries are very different from each other and
Georgia. Therefore, by including them in the comparative analysis, the study tests
the analytical framework used to explain the ‘Rose Revolution’ in an effective
way. Since a microcosm a post-Soviet world is constructed by including these
seven countries with different features and different foreign policy orientations,
countries with similar characteristics with them are not included in the scope
comparative analysis. For example, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are not
examined because examining Azerbaijan and Russia is sufficient for observing
rentier state dynamics.
The study is mainly centered on qualitative techniques supported by
quantitative data when the need be, especially while comparing the economic
performance of the regimes under examination. The data used throughout this
study is drawn from both primary and secondary resources. Primary data for
Georgia was mostly attained as a result of interviews with state officials, political
analysts, academics, representatives of various NGOs and ordinary citizens made
during the three visits to Tbilisi in November 2008, June 2009 and May 2010.
Whenever possible, the information attained through interviews has been
crosschecked with secondary resources. As another primary resource, the
Georgian constitution has also proved to be important especially discussing the
administrative structure of the Georgian state, the powers of the president,
procedures to be followed in the case of cancelling elections and constitutional
amendments under Saakashvili regime. The books, articles published in books and
journals and the online copies of the Civil Georgia, the Georgian Times and the
Georgian Messenger constitute the other resources used for collecting data for
Georgia. Reports prepared by the Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and
International Crisis Group proved to be important sources for obtaining data for
Georgia and other seven countries. Books, journals and newspapers were also
widely utilized while conducting research for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
1.5 Structure of the Thesis
Having revisited the existing studies on the ‘color revolutions’ in this
chapter, the second chapter will explore the theoretical foundations of the works
examined here. First, the main assumptions of the society-centered approach to
regime change will be examined. Second, the weaknesses of these approaches will
be illuminated and the need to replace them with state-centered approaches will be
highlighted. Third, the chapter will outline the main features of the state centered
approach to be used in this study. Lastly, the chapter will focus on the concepts of
state autonomy and capacity. It will discuss the different components of state
capacity and clarify the mechanisms linking state strength and regime trajectories.
The third chapter will explore the history of Georgian statehood and the
relations of Tbilisi with the minorities. It will shed light on the roots of weakness
of the state in Georgia. The chapter will also discuss Gamsakhurdia’s and
Shevardnadze’s policies that aggravated the existing problems.
The fourth chapter will first deal with the emergence of the cracks in the
ruling elite and rise of reformers. While doing this, special attention will be
devoted to how state weakness enabled the opposition to gain popularity both at
home and abroad at the expense of the ruling elite. Then, the chapter will deal
with the mobilization of Georgian society and the failure of the Shevardnadze
regime to neutralize the challengers due to state weakness. Lastly, it will examine
why Western support was so critical for the stability of Shevardnadze regime and
how its suspension deteriorated the crisis faced by him.
The fifth chapter will examine the political atmosphere in the immediate
period before the 2003 parliamentary elections, the parties and blocks that
competed in the elections, the election fraud and the ensuing protests, the external
reaction to the election results and the reasons behind the success of the ‘Rose
Revolution’. It will also explore the 2004 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The sixth chapter is devoted to the post-‘Rose Revolution’ Georgia. It will
explore whether Saakashvili regime moved the country into a democratic or
authoritarian road after fall of Shevardnadze. By doing this, it will test the
strength of the literature that viewed the ‘Rose Revolution’ as a democratic
breakthrough. The chapter will also examine the emergence of challenges to the
stability of the Saakashvili regime and his way of dealing with these challenges.
The chapter will devote special attention to attempts of Saakashvili to strengthen
state capacity and autonomy. It will also examine how the new balances between
the state and social forces have shaped the regime trajectory in the post-‘Rose
Revolution’ Georgia.
The seventh chapter compares the regime trajectories in seven former
Soviet republics that experienced mass mobilization within the context of ‘color
revolutions’ with that of Georgia. The chapter will compare Georgia first with
other South Caucasus Republics, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Then, the comparison
will be extended to Central Asia by addressing Kyrgyz and Uzbek regime
trajectories. Lastly, the regime outcomes in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia will be
covered. These countries will be compared with Georgia on the basis of the
different components of the state capacity and autonomy vis-à-vis social forces
and external actors favoring regime change. The chapter will explore what these
countries have in common with or different from Georgia that they experienced
regime change and stability in the face of challenges posed by the ‘color
revolutions’. Besides the comparison along the explanatory variables, the chapter
will also provide an examination of post-‘revolution’ political environments in
Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine to clarify whether these countries experienced
democratization after the regime changes due to the strengthening of social forces
as argued by society-centric literature.
The eighth chapter summarizes the findings of the study. It discusses how
the findings of this thesis have revealed the weaknesses of the studies in the
literature. It also shows that analytical framework of the study proved to be an
effective tool for explaining the dynamics of the ‘Rose Revolution’.
2.1. Introduction
This chapter will lay out the theoretical framework to be used throughout
this study. To this end, it will first address the theoretical underpinnings of the
society- centered studies discussed in the literature review. After examining the
main assumptions that society-centered approaches used to explain earlier cases of
regime change, the chapter will discuss how the main analytical tools of the
approach have been revived with the unfolding of ‘color revolutions’. Next, the
chapter will deal with the inefficiencies of the society-centered approach and
underline the necessity to replace it with a state-centered approach to illuminate
the driving forces behind the ‘Rose Revolution’ in particular and regime change
and stability in post-Soviet space in general. After that, the chapter will focus on
the general features of the state-centered approach to be used in the study and
suggest ways to account for regime change by using the historical sociology as the
main analytical framework. Next, it will conceptualize state capacity and
autonomy and discuss the different components of the state capacity.
2.2. Society-Centered Approaches to Regime Change
This section will deal with three society-centered theoretical traditions on
regime change: modernization, political culture and diffusion perspectives. As
will be seen, they are closely related to each other as they unite in their emphasis
on the societal forces as the main driving forces of the regime change and
progress bias. Modernization, political culture and diffusion perspectives
constitute the main theoretical tradition that the recent society-centered studies on
‘color revolutions’ draw on. Therefore, this section will first discuss the main
premises of modernization, political culture and diffusion perspectives with
reference to pioneering studies and then move on to demonstrating how the earlier
assumptions of the society-centered theoretical tradition have been revived by the
recent society-centered studies on ‘color revolutions’.
Modernization perspective provided the first society-centered framework
to explain regime change. It consists of the studies of the scholars who believe
that economic development causes social change that in turn fosters
democratization. This approach is first introduced by Daniel Lerner and Seymour
Martin Lipset and further developed by writers such as Robert Dahl, Adam
Przeworski and Fernando Limongi.
In “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and
Political Legitimacy”, Lipset argued that economic development brings about
increase in the level of wealth, industrialization, and urbanization and all these
raise the chances for democracy.
Increased wealth improves both the social
conditions of lower class and the political role of the middle class.
According to
him, increased wealth makes the lower class less sympathetic to extremist
ideologies. It also increases the size of middle class, which plays a mitigating role
by rewarding moderate and democratic parties and punishing the extremist ones.
Authoritarian state structures cannot tolerate these changes in class structures
created by the process of economic development. The growth of a commercial and
industrial bourgeoisie, increasing union activity among workers and the migration
to the cities break the patron-client networks on which the incumbent regime
relies on. Lastly, for Lipset, economic development plays an important role in the
flourishing of civil society organizations. Economic development prepares the
ground for the emergence of a large number of voluntary and autonomous social
organizations, which not only provides a check on the government but also
increases political participation and develop political skills. In Lipset’s own words
“the more well-to-do a nation, the greater the changes it will sustain
Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba pioneered the studies that linked
democratic regime change to a distinctive political culture, to say it another way
Political Culture Perspective on regime change. In The Civic Culture, the authors
Seymour Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and
Political Legitimacy ”, American Political Science Review, Vol. 53 (March 1959), p. 78.
Ibid., p. 75.
asserted that political culture shapes citizens’ knowledge of the system, their
feelings towards it and their judgment of it.
According to them, only a certain type
of political culture - ‘civic culture’- is conducive for democratic change because it
is marked by “high frequency of political activity, exposure to communication,
political discussion and concern with political affairs”.
Christian Welzel and Ronald Inglehart, the most enthusiastic
representatives of political culture theory in recent times, underlined the
importance of emancipative values of the masses for regime change. For them, if
the masses place emphasis on human well-being, freedom and equality, they will
more likely to involve in social movements aiming at attainment and expansion of
democratic freedoms. Democratic values of the society play a vital role in
bringing an end to the authoritarian rule and the establishment of democratic rule
in their analysis.
Thickened globalization and the third wave of democratization have led
many scholars to revive the society-centered approaches on political change
examined so far.
Globalization appeared as a force that has eliminated
differences between the First, Second and the Third Worlds of the Cold War with
its homogenizing effect. The growth of the middle class, dissemination of
information to distant corners of the world thanks to new technology and diffusion
of experiences gained in toppling dictators across different regions prompted
many authors examine the political developments in former Soviet region through
the lenses of society-centered approaches.
The end of the Cold War was interpreted as an end not only to the
ideological conflict between U.S. and the Soviet Union but also to all ideological
Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in
Five Nations (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1963), p. 15.
Ibid., pp. 29-30.
Christian Welzel and Ronald Inglehart, “Emancipative Values and Democracy: Response to
Hadenius and Teorell”, Studies in Comparative International Development, Vol. 41, No. 3
(September 2006), pp. 74-94.
Frances Hagopian, “Political Development, Revisited”, Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 33,
No. 6-7 (2000), p. 882.
conflicts. Regarding the collapse of the Soviet Union as the ultimate victory of
democracy over authoritarianism, Francis Fukuyama argued that this triumph
constituted the “end of the history” in the sense that it marked the “end point of
mankind's ideological evolution” and the "final from of human government".
Once democracy has emerged as triumphant, post-Soviet societies would embrace
the democratic principles marking the Western world and the evolution of
political development in the world history would be completed.
This euphoria led to giving up both state-centered and historically sensitive
analytical frameworks (the frameworks that take change over tine and across
space into account).
Since the Lockean liberty was regarded to gain an ultimate
victory over Hobbesian Leviathan illustrated by the collapse of Soviet Union,
state-centered approaches to political change started to be considered as useless
and outmoded. Now, it was the time to discuss the lessening of the state grip over
society with the disappearance of Soviet police state, not to focus on how state
shapes society. Moreover, as history had reached an end, democracy was viewed
as something that could be crafted from scratch through constitutional reforms,
shock-therapy market reforms and NGOs at any place regardless of local
circumstances. The studies on the post-Soviet transformation representing the
mainstream have tended to comprehend the process as the political and cultural
convergence of the ex-communist societies with the West.
As noticed by some
observers, this kind of a conceptualization of the post-Communist political
development has been marked by a strong similarity with the assumptions of the
classical modernization theory, which have been examined above.
How would the values of Western world reach and start to democratize the
former Soviet Union? The answer to this question has been provided by the
diffusion perspective on political change. Diffusion perspective emphasizes
Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?”, The National Interest, Vol. 16 (Summer 1989), pp.
Ottorino Cappelli, “Pre-Modern State-Building in Post-Soviet Russia”, Journal of Communist
Studies and Transition Politics, Vol., 24, No. 4 (2008), p. 532.
Paul Blokker, “Post-Communist Modernization, Transition Studies, and Diversity in Europe”,
European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 8, No. 4, (2005), p. 503.
Ibid., p. 504.
external influences on the democratization process in a given country. Within the
framework of this perspective, Laurence Whitehand underlined the importance of
‘consent’ and ‘contagion’ both of which function through ‘international
demonstration effects’.
In consent, democratic norms are communicated from
society to society and demands for democratic reforms from below are aimed to
be generated in the countries living under authoritarian rule. Contagion means
spread of experiences gained in the democratization process from one country to
another. In similar line, Pravda draws attention to the significance of the external
factors in democratization such as the diffusion of ideas across the boundaries
through mass media and increased international activity for democracy through
international organizations and NGOs.
As seen, diffusion perspective is closely related to the society-centered
perspectives discussed before. First, diffusion perspective is also society based as
it highlights the forces of political change spreading from societies in the
democratic countries to the ones living under authoritarian rule. Moreover, both
perspectives underline the roles played societal actors such as opposition groups
and media. Second, the modernization and diffusion perspectives share the notion
of progress. Modernization perspective believes in the improvement of societies
and political systems through economic growth, improved education and
increased communication. In similar lines, diffusion perspective portrays the
societies in the authoritarian world progressing toward democracy thanks to the
diffusion of democratic ideals and practices from the democratic world. Diffusion
perspectives draw attention to the homogenization of political cultures through
progress in democratic direction.
Transnational NGO networks had already attracted a great deal of interest
before the emergence of ‘color revolutions’ phenomena. In the post-Cold War
period, these networks have been strengthened because of the proliferation of
Laurence Whitehand, “Three International Dimensions of Democratization”, Laurence
Whitehand, The International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 3-26.
Alex Pravda, “Introduction” in Jan Zielonka and Alex Pravda, Democratic Consolidation in
Eastern Europe: Volume 2, International and Transnational Actors (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2001), pp. 1-29.
human rights organizations and other NGOs and improved travel and
communication opportunities. They have become increasingly active and involved
in drawing attention in human rights abuses in various countries, lobbying
Western governments to take action against authoritarian governments and to
protect and strengthen domestic opposition groups.
The activities of NGOs have received increased attention with the spread
of ‘color revolutions’ across post-Soviet space. The significance of the financial
and technical assistance to the Georgian civil society organizations such as
Liberty Institute, Kmara and Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) has
been emphasized by many studies.
It has been underlined that Georgian NGOs
attained financial means to carry out anti-regime activity thanks to the assistance
provided by Freedom House, the George Soros Open Society Institute (OSI), the
National Democratic Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, the
International Republican Institute, United States Agency for International
Development (USAID), the EU and the Council of Europe. This strengthening has
been considered as valid for Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, which have also
experienced regime change through ‘color revolutions’. Among these
organizations, OSI has especially come to the limelight since different from other
organizations, which carried out democratic assistance programs including civil
society and party development, OSI involved in activities such as funding the trips
of Georgian activists to Serbia and Serbian activists to Georgia.
Menno Fenger, “The Diffusion of Revolutions: Comparing Recent Regime Turnovers in Five
Post-Communist Countries”, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Vol.
15, No. 1 (2007), p. 9.
Examples of studies which underscores the role of diffusion mechanisms in the Rose Revolution
and other color revolutions include Welt Corry, Georgia: Causes of the Rose Revolution and
Lessons for Democracy Assistance (Washington: United States Agency for International
Development, 18 March 2005), James V. Wertsch, “Georgia as a Laboratory for Democracy”,
Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Fall 2005), pp.
519-536, McFaul Michael, “Ukraine Imports Democracy: External Influences on the
Orange Revolution”, International Security, Vol. 32, No. 2 (2007), pp. 45-83, Dan Jakopovich,
“The 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia: A Case Study in High Politics and Rank-and-File
Execution”, Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, Vol. 15, No. 2
(August 2007), pp. 211-220, Laverty Nicklaus, “The Problem of Lasting Change: Civil Society
and the Color Revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine”, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet
Democratization, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring 2008), pp. 143-162 and Joerg Forbrig and Pavol Demes
(eds.), Reclaiming Democracy: Civil Society and Electoral Change in Central and Eastern Europe
(Washington: The German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2009).
The studies abiding by the diffusion perspective emphasized the
importance of practices such as election monitoring, peaceful tactics of resistance
and rallies in bringing down incumbents. It has been argued that transnational
NGO networks played indispensible role in the spread of these practices to the
Post-soviet space, as sharing of experiences, training to civil society activists and
diffusion of successful tactics enabled by these transnational networks.
The role of media in ‘color revolutions’ has been also attributed
significance by the studies following diffusion perspective. The ‘revolution’
model highlighted by the these perspectives included the raising awareness of the
public, revealing corruption, communicating the need for change, spreading the
news of discrepancy between the official and independent tabulation results to the
public by independent media. Media has been pictured as a powerful force for
change in post-Soviet space, which has informed and mobilized citizens and
generated public support for regime change.
2.3. Weaknesses of Society-Centered Approaches
The main weakness of the society-centered approaches arises from their
ignorance of the fact that grievances and mass mobilizations do not lead to regime
changes in all cases. They neglect the mechanisms through which some states pre-
empt and repress the challenges towards their rule. They miss the important point
that not all states are vulnerable to overthrow through ‘color revolutions’.
Society-centered approaches neglect that the mobilization of society as a
result of discontent, improved education or economic power did not lead to
regime change in all places experiencing these phenomena. Consequently, the
studies that use their assumptions to account for ‘color revolutions’ ignore that
increased awareness and demands for change in post-Soviet space brought by
spread of revolutionary ideas and tactics have not sufficed to bring about
unseating of incumbents in all post-Soviet countries. Contrary to the assumptions
of this tradition, the presence of organized groups determined to take power, the
For the examples of studies emphasizing role of the mass media please see James. V. Wertsch,
“Forces behind the Rose Revolution,” in Enough! The Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia
2003, ed. Z. Karumidze and J. V. Wertsch, 131–40 (New York: Nova Science, 2005). David
Anable, “The Role of Georgia’s Media- and Western Aid- in the Rose Revolution”, Harvard
International Journal of Press Politics, Vol. 11, No. 3(2006), pp. 7-43.
rise of the youth organizations and united oppositions proved to be inadequate to
bring about removal of incumbents in some post-Soviet countries. Hence, it is
clear that society-centered approaches remain short of accounting for variance of
outcomes despite common causes. Therefore, there is the need for an alternative
approach that illuminates how state institutions and practices can function to
forestall the revolutionary social forces in some cases but not in others.
Neglecting the mechanisms through which the state shapes the social forces
impairs the society-centered approaches significantly.
In the society-centric analysis examined above state emerges as an entity
without autonomy. It is not conceived as an entity acting to shape and control
society to the extent that its power permits. Being one-sided, society-centered
approaches fail to see that the success of the anti-regime societal forces is shaped
by historical context in which state institutions and practices occupy a central
place. They are exclusively preoccupied with social dynamics and actors. Being
ahistorical, they ignore the specific circumstances of the different cases. As a
result, they remain short of explaining variances in regime trajectories among
countries facing the same challenges to their survival.
The criticisms of various state-centered analyses reveal the inefficiencies
of society-centered accounts on ‘revolutions’ better from different viewpoints.
Rentier state literature is a point in the case. This study uses the state-centered
approach to regime trajectories provided by historical sociologists Skocpol,
Migdal and Mann to account for the dynamics bringing about the ‘Rose
Revolution’. Rentier state approach is not the main approach to be used in this
study. However, rentier state literature is still useful, as this study will compare
Azerbaijan and Russia, which can be considered as rentier states, with Georgia.
Moreover, this literature provides a good critique of the notion of the positive
relation between wealth and democracy inherent in the society-centered approach.
Rentier state literature is also state centered. Thus, using this literature does not
contradict with the main analytical framework used in this study. Therefore, the
following paragraphs will review rentier state literature to draw attention to the
weaknesses of society-centered approach to regime trajectories.
The rentier state literature opposes positive correlation between wealth and
democratization to such an extent that authors like Luciani and Beblawi remark
that for rentier states the only window of opportunity for democratization is
opened when a fiscal crisis emerges due to the decline of the oil revenues.
According to this literature, oil wealth affects democratization process negatively
in three ways that can be labeled as ‘rentier effect’, ‘repression effect’ and
‘modernization effect’.
To start with explaining how ‘rentier effect’ works, Giacomo Luciani
argues that when governments gain adequate revenues from oil sales, they tend to
decrease the amounts of taxes or totally give up taxing their citizens and citizens
demand less accountability and representation from their governments in turn. As
a result, the ruling elites enjoy the opportunity of avoiding democratization as
long as they have access to oil revenues.
This argument is based on ‘no taxation
without representation’ principle, which dates back to political developments in
colonial America.
In order to finance wars, the British monarchs taxed their
subjects in American colonies. When colonists rejected paying taxes imposed on
them without their consent, the king had to provide the taxpayers with some
influence over government spending and tax rates. This paved the way for the
emergence of representative government.
Taxation is only one of the dimensions of rentier effect; there are also the
spending and group formation dimensions of it.
With regard to spending
dimension, rentier state literature points out that oil wealth can be used for
Hazem Beblawi, “The Rentier State in the Arab World” and Giacomo Luciani, “Allocation vs.
Production States: A Theoretical Framework” in Giacomo Luciani and Hazem Beblavi (ed.), The
Rentier State (London: Croom Helm, 1987), pp. 49-63 and 63-83 respectively and Giacomo
Luciani, “The Oil Rent: the Fiscal Crisis of the State and Democratization ” in Ghassan
Salame(ed.), Democracy without Democrats: The Renewal of Politics in the Muslim World
(London: IB Taruis, 1994), pp. 130-155.
Michael L. Ross, “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?”, World Politics, Vol. 53, No. 3 (April 2001),
pp. 332-337.
Giacomo Luciani, “The Oil Rent: the Fiscal Crisis of the State and Democratization ” in
Ghassan Salame(ed.), Democracy without Democrats: The Renewal of Politics in the Muslim
World (London: IB Taruis, 1994), p. 134.
Camilla Sandbakken, “The Limits to Democracy Posed by Oil Rentier States: The Cases of
Algeria, Nigeria and Libya’’, Democratization, Vol. 13, No 1 (February 2006), p. 137.
Michael L. Ross, “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?”, World Politics, Vol. 53, No. 3 (April 2001),
pp. 333-335.
spending programs that aim to reduce dissent and pressures for democracy.
Luciani mentions that when the state is in a position to buy consensus by
distributing certain goods and services, it does not need to work hard for gaining
democratic legitimation.
The government can purchase consent by spending oil
revenues on education, health, social security, employment, infrastructure and
investment in the private sector.
Moreover, authoritarian regimes also can ensure
some degree of loyalty through patron-client networks that distribute various
awards that oil revenues made possible. In return for this state patronage,
members of these networks give up the right to demand political participation
through direct democratic means. Instead, they operate within the expansive
bureaucracy and other organs of the state.
In latter stages, those involved in
these networks might resist democratization because transparency and
accountability created by democratization will threaten their interest. Lastly,
governments can also use oil revenues to buy off opposition and create cracks in
the opposition block.
The third dimension of ‘rentier effect’, the group formation dimension, is
not completely unrelated to spending dimension. Concerning this dimension, the
literature argues that the rentier governments will use the oil revenues to prevent
the formation of independent social groups that can demand political rights from
the state.
By the means of payoffs, the government tries to satisfy the people
with their lives and decrease the incentives to from associations and interest
Camilla Sandbakken, “The Limits to Democracy Posed by Oil Rentier States: The Cases of
Algeria, Nigeria and Libya’’, Democratization, Vol. 13, No 1(February 2006), p. 138.
Giacomo Luciani, “The Oil Rent: the Fiscal Crisis of the State and Democratization ” in
Ghassan Salame(ed.), Democracy without Democrats: The Renewal of Politics in the Muslim
World (London: IB Taruis, 1994), p. 132.
Camilla Sandbakken, “The Limits to Democracy Posed by Oil Rentier States: The Cases of
Algeria, Nigeria and Libya’’, Democratization, Vol. 13, No 1(February 2006), p. 138.
Alexander A. Cooley, “Review Essay: Booms and Busts: Theorizing Institutional Formation and
Change in Oil States”, Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 8, No. 1, (Spring, 2001), p.
165, W. M. Corden, “Booming Sector and Dutch Disease Economics: Survey and Consolidation”,
Oxford Economic Papers, Vol. 36, No. 3, (Nov. 1984), p. 166.
Michael L. Ross, “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?”, World Politics, Vol. 53, No. 3 (April 2001),
p. 334.
groups. Governments also deliberately destroy independent civil institutions while
founding others supporting the political aims of the regime by using oil revenues.
To continue with ‘repression effect’, the literature argues that oil rich
governments become able to increase repression in their countries by using oil
revenues for building up internal security forces.
To conclude with ‘modernization effect’, rentier state literature suggests
that dependence on oil revenues obstructs the modernization of the country and in
this way blocks the social changes that could have been instrumental in bringing
about a democratic government.
Rent-based economic structure obstructs
democratization by preventing changes in the class structure that are conducive to
democratization. Rentier states do not have an independent middle class that can
function as a source of opposition.
Since the middle class in the rentier states is
directly dependent upon the resources granted by the state; it does not have the
bargaining power against the ruling elite.
As another stumbling block to
democratization in class structure, lack of productive activities in rentier states
prevents the emergence of a labor class and labor unions.
Thus, contrary to what Lipset argued, the chances for democracy do not
always increase as the country becomes wealthier. It is unwise to expect that
economic development will always serve democratization through the
mechanisms suggested by the modernization perspective. It is necessary to
consider how the state uses the economic resources and how the interaction of
state and society in the economic field condition regime trajectories.
Having discussed the weaknesses of one version of the society-centered
approach to regime change, modernization perspective, the discussion now turns
to another society-centered perspective, diffusion. Similar criticisms can be posed
to the studies relying the diffusion perspective. However, it should be added that
the effectiveness of the external pressures for regime change is not same for all
Ibid., p.335.
Ibid., pp. 336-337.
Camilla Sandbakken, “The Limits to Democracy Posed by Oil Rentier States: The Cases of
Algeria, Nigeria and Libya’’, Democratization, Vol. 13, No 1(February 2006), p. 139.
Michael L. Ross, “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?”, World Politics, Vol. 53, No. 3 (April 2001), p.
countries. For the countries prospects for deep integration to Western institutions
like EU or NATO are remote, external pressures for removing authoritarian
governments do not count much.
Moreover, not all incumbent regimes need the
aid coming from international sources aiming regime change to the same degree
because they either enjoy important degrees of economic resources of their own or
they are able to find a counterweight against the external pressures for regime
change by making alliances with states interested in regime stability.
Consequently, some regimes are able to resist external pressures aiming at their
removal successfully. Since society-centered approaches remains short of
recognizing these points, this study will use an alternative theoretical perspective
which emphasizes that state structures and actions play a central role in
conditioning the vulnerability of authoritarian regimes to the pressures for regime
change coming from outside.
Lastly, as Henry E. Hale in “Democracy or Democracy on the March? The
Color Revolutions as Normal Dynamics of Patronal Presidential Presidentialism”,
Graeme P. Herd in “Colorful Revolutions and the CIS: “Manufactured” versus
“Managed” Democracy?”, Vitali Silitski in “Preempting Democracy: the Case of
Belarus” and Thomas Carothers in “The Backlash against Democracy Promotion”
note, the examples of regime changes in some countries can serve as a source of
negative learning for the autocrats in other countries. The authoritarian leaders
ruling the former Soviet republics that did not experience ‘color revolutions’ have
come to attribute the success of overthrow attempt to the weaknesses of the ousted
leaders. To escape the fate of their counterparts, they increased their grip over the
state structures and cracked down on activists expressing dissent. They have also
harassed and expelled Western based NGOs and prevented local NGOs from
taking external financial help. Therefore, this study needs a theoretical perspective
that will take negative learning as well as diffusion of tactics used in overthrowing
incumbents into account and illuminate the reasons behind the ability of some
regimes to effectively limit NGOs in their countries.
2.4. A State-Centered Approach to ‘Color Revolutions’
This study argues that to account for the dynamics bringing about regime
change in Georgia through the ‘Rose Revolution’ and regime trajectories in other
post-Soviet countries, it is necessary to use a state-centered analytical framework
rather than a society-centered one. The ineffectiveness of the society-centered
approaches and the need to replace them with state-centered analytical framework
become obvious if one considers that societal forces such as mobilized masses,
youth organizations or determined opposition parties could not succeed in
removing incumbents when the state leaders took necessary steps for regime
survival. Therefore, it is required to employ an analytical framework that sheds
light on the ways that state structures and actions condition not only the success or
failure but also the development of anti-regime movements.
This study will use a state-centered perspective that places the processes
whereby the states shape the society and enable or constrain anti-regime activities.
It will be shown that these processes are casually more important and decisive for
the regime trajectories than the mechanism through which societal forces,
including civil society, opposition party and media, influence political
It is important to emphasize that although this study will adopt a state-
centered approach, it will still try to avoid one-sidedness. It will keep away from
pushing society out while ‘bringing the state back in’ by approaching the states
and societies permanently struggling with each other. ‘Bringing the state back in’
does not mean substituting society-deterministic approaches with state-
deterministic approaches.
Rather, it means analyzing state and society in relation
to each other. Thus, although this study uses a state-centered approach, it will
examine the competition between state and societal forces in Georgia before the
Rose Revolution and the roles that the societal forces (the opposition, the civil
society and the media) played in the ‘Rose Revolution’. However, it will be
shown that these societal forces were able to play these significant roles due to
state weaknesses. Since the same societal forces could not act independently and
Theda Skocpol, “Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research” in
Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In,
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 1985), p. 20.
cause regime change in other post-Soviet countries where the state was strong,
this study advocates using a state-centered rather than a society centered
approach. Since state capacity and autonomy is the determining factor for the
success of the overthrow attempts, it is necessary to use a state-centered approach
to explain the dynamics of the ‘Rose Revolution’ in particular and mechanisms
shaping regime trajectories in post-Soviet space in general.
As guided by the analysis of Michael Mann in The Sources of Social
Power, this study takes the state and society as constantly interacting and
competing with shaping each other. Mann provides the insight that the state deals
with multiple, overlapping, interacting and often competing power networks in the
society. Rather than viewing the states or the societal forces in isolation from the
historical context, this study will explore how the state and society compete with
each other and how they shape each other’s actions and powers. State will not be
taken as an arena of competition among the different groups in society. It also acts
to shape the power and action of social groups including the anti-regime forces.
Thus, contrary to how the society-centered approaches portray them, societal
forces do not act independently of the state. The incapacitation of the Georgian
state in various power domains led the society-centered studies to perceive
societal actors as omnipotent and autonomous. This study will examine the
important roles that the societal played in the Revolution but not without
emphasizing that they were able to play these roles because of the weakness of the
Georgian state and a state-centered analysis is required to illuminate the real
dynamics preparing the strength of societal forces.
In the light of this discussion, the study will examine how power centers in
the Georgian society compete with the state in various domains before and after
the ‘Rose Revolution’ in the coming chapters. These power centers can be the
leaders of ethnic groups or opposition leaders who try to gain the allegiance of the
citizens or private actors seeking access to economic power. The state makes
claims to monopolize power in various areas but it gains stateness to the degree
that it consolidates its claims. It tries to monopolize use of violence, regulation of
the activities of the citizens, extraction and deployment of resources and
formation of relations with external forces. When state fails to strengthen its
capacity in various areas at the expense of social forces and lose its autonomy vis-
à-vis them, these forces act to employ their independence and the capacity they
enjoy to bring down the regime running the state.
A more detailed discussion on the ways that link state autonomy and
capacity with the regime fates will be provided in the next section. Before
concluding this section, it is also necessary to emphasize that the dynamics
bringing about regime change cannot be fully understood without considering the
impact of international environment. Since the domestic and international realms
are inherently linked as the historical sociologists pointed out, domestic level
forces cannot account for the regime outcomes on their own. To account for the
‘Rose Revolution’, one also has to examine how international forces affected the
state and society in Georgia, more specifically how external forces served to the
significant weakening of the regime in relation to anti-regime forces.
After these general points about the approach that the study will follow to
analyze regime trajectories, the following sections will focus on the state
autonomy and capacity as the main variables to be used in accounting for regime
stability and change in the face of mass protests. The detailed discussion on these
terms will complete the general principles put forward in this section and shed
more light on the weaknesses of society-centered approaches on regime change by
revealing the role of state.
2.4.1. Conceptualizing State Autonomy and Capacity to Analyze Regime
Although the concepts of state autonomy and state capacity are closely
related and mutually reinforcing as far as this study concerns, it is still necessary
to recognize the differences between them and to examine the ways in which these
two dimensions of stateness interact. In this study, state autonomy is defined as
the ability of state to formulate interest and policies of its own, independent of or
against the interests of different forces and groups in the society and international
realm. State capacity is conceptualized as the state’s ability to implement policies
to accomplish political, economic and social goals at home and abroad.
study will show that as states, to be illustrated by the case of Georgia prior the
‘Rose Revolution’, lose their ability to achieve their goals and to act
independently from societal and external forces, the regimes running these states
lose their chances for survival against the anti-regime movements.
This kind of conceptualization of state autonomy and capacity is mainly
based on elaborations of the neo-Weberian school, principally those of Theda
Skocpol. Until the end of 1970s, the dominant view of the relations between state
and society left no room for the possibility of state autonomy. The mainstream
pluralist school, which comprises the society-centered views discussed above,
assumed that the state policies were the result of interaction of rival societal
groups. The Marxists critics of pluralism did not include the possibility of state
autonomy, either. Rather, they questioned the pluralist view of the state as
controlled by various groups and pictured state as the instrument of the dominant
class. The milestone article of Theda Skocpol, "Bringing the State Back In:
Strategies of Analysis in Current Research", challenged this neglect of the
autonomy of the state by Liberals and Marxists and outlined the main premises of
the state-centered approach to regime trajectories.
Skocpol defined the state capacity as “to implement official goals,
especially over the actual or potential opposition of powerful social groups or in
the face of recalcitrant socioeconomic circumstances.” As her mentioning of the
opposition of the social forces hints, state capacity is closely related with the state
autonomy, which is defined as the ability to “formulate and pursue goals that are
not simply reflective of the demands or interests of social groups, classes, or
his definition is based on the review of the statist literature provided by Karen Barkey and
Sunita Parikh, ‘Comparative Perspectives on the State’, International Review of Sociology, Vol.
17, No. 2 (1991), p.525.
Samuel DeCanio, “Bringing the State Back In ….Again” , Critical Review, Vol. 14, No. 2 and
3(2000), p.140.
Theda Skocpol, “Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research” in
Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In,
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 1985), p. 9.
Skocpol calls for taking the state seriously as a macrostructure rather than
as an arena where societal forces fight one another. She underlined that state must
be seen as a set of administrative, policing and coercive institutions headed by an
executive authority (ruling elite). States primarily extract resources from society
and use this to establish and sustain administrative, legal and coercive
organizations. These organizations constitute the basis of state power and function
within the context of domestic and international dynamics.
By starting from the point that state has to be viewed as a set of
organizations aiming to control territory and population in its jurisdiction in line
with the Weberian tradition, Skocpol has made a critical contribution by
highlighting state autonomy. She pointed out that state organs can not be viewed
as the correspondence of the rivaling societal interest as in the case of liberalism
or as an instrument of class rule or arena for class struggles as the Marxist theory
The state organs can not be expected to be under the complete control of
the social forces, they are -at least potentially- autonomous to some degree. This
means that state leaders may formulate and pursue goals that are not simply
parallel to the interests or demands of the social groups or society, contrary to
what different versions of liberal theories discussed above and Marxist approaches
The degree of state autonomy change from case to case and this variance
in the degree of state autonomy has important consequences for the regime
trajectories. It is necessary to understand how domestic and international factors
act to determine the degree of state autonomy in a given time to make sense of
regime trajectories. As Skocpol notes, there are many factors shaping the degree
of state autonomy:
The extranational orientations of states, the challenges they
may face in maintaining domestic order and the
Theda Skocpol, “State and Revolution: Old Regimes and Revolutionary Crises in France,
Russia, and China”, Theory and Society, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (January-March 1979), p. 12.
Theda Skocpol, “Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research” in
Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In,
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 1985), pp. 4-5.
Ibid., p. 9.
organizational resources that collectivities of state officials
may be able to draw on and deploy-all of these features of
the state . . . can help to explain autonomous state action.
D. Michael Shafer provided a similar conceptualization when he argued
that “autonomy is the extent to which the state is not merely an arena for conflict
but is distinct from non-state actors.” He also adds that autonomy is not enough
on its own, states must also be able to act which requires capacity. As his
discussion reveals, whereas state autonomy can be understood in relation to the
societal actors, state capacity is both absolute and relative.
In absolute sense,
resources that the state enjoys, natural endowments, human resources such as a
high-qualified bureaucrats or monitoring capabilities, condition state capacity.
State also can gain capacity through external ties such external financial help or
money coming from diaspora. In relative sense, the interest, resource or
capabilities of societal forces also shapes state capacity. For example, if strong
non-state actors take the control of revenues coming from the natural
endowments, state capacity will be undermined despite the presence of natural
riches. On the other hand, the well-educated bureaucracy will weaken state
capacity if state employers pursue their private aims and refuse to obey state
leaders. Under extreme circumstances, where state lack autonomy completely,
state capture creates total chaos and abyss as different power actors try to push
state to different directions. Thus, although state autonomy and capacity are
customarily referred as the attributes of the state, they are not only function of
state organization and resources. State’s relations with the society and actors in
the international realm, including the other states, international organizations and
transnational networks of NGOs, also shape them. State, society and power
centers in outside the domestic arena constantly interact to condition state
autonomy and capacity.
In the state-centered literature over political and economic development,
two distinct trends over the relationship between state autonomy and capacity can
be discerned. The first approach views state’s relation to society in terms of
Ibid., p. 9.
D. Michael Shafer, Winners and Losers: How Sectors Shape the Developmental Prospects of
States (London: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 6-7.
competition. In this first approach, which is represented by Skocpol, Migdal and
Mann, when state defeats the power centers in the society, it develops autonomy
and capacity and emerges as strong. Thus, state autonomy provides capacity. On
the contrary, when state is defeated by the societal forces, it turns out to be
dominated by the society and can not act independently and effectively. Lack of
autonomy and ensuing lack of capacity create state weakness.
The second approach, which is represented by Peter B. Evans, approaches
the relationship between state and society and its impact on state capacity in a
different way. In this approach, state obtains capacity when they are not
autonomous from the society but embedded in the society and acts in cooperation
with it. In Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation, Evans
argues that although ‘predatory’ Third World states are marked by an important
degree of autonomy, their capacity to formulate effective development policies are
quite limited. By contrast, Japanese and Korean states are marked by ‘embedded
autonomies’, they enjoy professional quality and a high degree of internal
cohesion besides being strongly tied to the business communities through
informal networks. This provides them with additional information and capacity
for policy implementation necessary for developmental states.
This study adopts the first approach to the relationship between state
autonomy and capacity because the study focuses on the issue of regime change
and in this context state and society are opposed to each other. In this issue one
cannot talk about state’s gaining capacity by cooperating with the society.
Whereas the regime holding the power tires to remain in power by using capacity
at its disposal, the society tries to overthrow it through using the autonomy and
capacity that have been wrested from the state. Since the aims of the social groups
and the state elite clash, cooperation between them, or embedded autonomy, is out
of question.
It is also necessary to add that this thesis does not only focus on state
autonomy vis-à-vis the anti-regime forces in the society. It also considers the state
autonomy vis-à-vis the external forces. Economic and military strength is an
Peter B. Evans, Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1995).
important factor fostering state autonomy in this respect. If a state is capable in
military and economic terms, it will not need external aid and thus the ruling elite
will be less vulnerable to pressures coming from external forces favoring regime
change. Under different circumstances, a state might be weak economically and
militarily but if the ruling elite enjoys the support of an external force supporting
the incumbent regime, this state will still be resistant to external pressures for
regime change.
Certainly, the state autonomy vis-à-vis external forces becomes important
when external pressures for regime change really exists. In some cases, some
external powers may have an interest in the maintenance of the regime and under
these circumstances, they will support the ruling elite however authoritarian the
regime is. Therefore, different from Levitsky and Way, this study will not
automatically assume that Western powers support democratization of the
authoritarian regimes. Rather, it will examine whether the external pressures for
regime change really exists for each country under examination and then turn to
exploring the state autonomy to resist such pressures.
Having clarified the study’s view on the relation between state capacity
and autonomy in this way, it is also necessary to add that this study adopts a
conceptualization of state including both Weberian and Tocquevillian
Its Weberian component provides that state organs (at least potentially) enjoy
some degree of autonomy from the society (depending on the case under scrutiny)
which enables that which formulate and pursue goals and policies which are
distinct from and even against the demands of the society.
Whereas Weberian tradition is quite important for taking state autonomy
into account, the Tocquevillian approach to the state make it possible to envisage
that states as actors are important not only because of the ability of the state
officials to act autonomously of the society but also due to the state’s role in
shaping the groups in the society.
Organizational arrangements and activities of
Lucan A. Way and Steven Levitsky, “International Linkage and Democratization”, Journal of
Democracy, Vol. 16, No. 3(July 2005), pp. 21-22.
Theda Skocpol in "Bringing the State Back in: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research." in
Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In,
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 1985), p. 9.
Ibid., p. 21.
the groups in the society as well as the demands they made upon the state are
shaped by the structures and activities of the state.
In the light of these points,
the study will show how lack of state capacity enables anti-regime forces to gain
strength and pursue their goals effectively. This point will be more
comprehensible after the discussion of the different components of state capacity.
2.4.2. Components of State Capacity
Through its capacity to penetrate, control, distribute, reward and sanction,
the state determines whether serious anti-regime activity at the mass and elite
level will emerge and achieve success by conditioning the ‘political field’, which
is defined by Pierre Bourdieu as a site in which political elites compete for the
monopoly of the right to speak and act in the name of the citizens as well as for
the monopoly of the legitimate use of political resources such as law, army,
police, public finances.
State capacity is the main force shaping the ‘political
field’ because in its competition with the opposition the incumbent leadership
mobilizes state capacity to ensure its survival. The sanctions, material incentives,
state services and legitimacy mechanisms are used by the leadership in its struggle
for survival.
Availability of these elements is determined by state capacity. State
capacity is also an important determinant of state autonomy as state officials are
most likely to achieve the aims independent of society when they have necessary
means at their disposal including their survival. When state capacity is strong, the
ruling elite will not have trouble in finding and employing mechanisms that will
ensure its survival.
To the contrary, when the state lacks capacity, the ruling elite will be
defenseless against the anti-regime activity and challengers of the incumbent
regime will not experience hardship while toppling the incumbent leadership. In
Pierre Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991),
p. 181.
Joel S. Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities
in the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 208.
the absence of state capacity the domestic and external actors find the opportunity
to act without any constraint. The power vacuum created by state failure helps the
anti-regime forces at home and abroad to a significant extent. Anti-regime forces
exploit the political vacuum and replace the existing leadership. Thus, it is not
appropriate to account for the regime outcomes by emphasizing opposition
strength because the state capacity together with the effectiveness of the ruling
elite in using it shapes the opposition’s maneuver to act in a significant way.
Thus, state capacity defines the opportunities enjoyed by and constraints
placed on both the incumbent leadership and anti-regime forces. Drawing upon
the recognition of the primary role of the state in political process, this study will
integrate elites with the circumstances helping and limiting them by using state
capacity as the main explanatory framework. Rather than taking state as given and
focus on elites to explain divergence of political outcomes, this study will
differentiate between state capacities of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia,
Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan and explore how differences among
them in term of state power brought about divergent regime outcomes in those
In this respect, the study joins the attempts to ‘bring the state back in’ to
the study of regime trajectories. This attempt gains special importance in post-
Soviet context. As Anna Grzymala-Busse and Pauline Jones Luong pointed out,
studies of post-Soviet transition suffers from the neglect or inefficient study of
post-Communist state formation process.
Insistence on this neglect misguides
students of post-Soviet transition because as Alexander J. Motyl points out the
most critical challenge that non-Russian post-communist states face is state
building not democratization.
States in the region first of all try to acquire ability
to sustain themselves internally and internationally through acquiring coercive,
A similar argument can be found in Lucan A. Way, “Pigs, Wolves and the Evolution of Post-
Soviet Competitive Authoritarianism, 1992-2005, Center on Democracy, Development, and The
Rule of Law Working Papers, No. 62 (June 2006), p. 52.
Anna Grzymala-Busse and Pauline Jones Luong, “The Ignored Transition: Post-Communist
State Development”, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Working Paper, Harvard
University, March 2002.
Alexander J. Motyl, “Soviet Legacies, Post-Soviet Transformations”, Freedom Review, Vol. 28,
No. 1 (January/February 1997), pp. 50-59.
extractive, regulative, distributive and external capacities. Many scholars studying
the subject ignore the fact that post-Soviet state structures are not similar to the
ones in the Western developed world. Post-Soviet states are not fixed and
consolidated entities; they are in the process of making and each country shows a
different degree of success in the process of state building.
Two approaches mark the literature linking the state capacity with the
regime outcomes. The first approach, represented by Guillermo O’Donnell
together with Juan Linz and Alfred Stephan, links the survival of democracy
rather than authoritarianism with the strength of state capacity. O’Donnell argues
that state ability to maintain a relatively predictable normative order through
effective enforcement of laws is required for the consolidation of democracy.
Linz and Stephan also includes state strength in what they regard as necessary
conditions for democratic consolidation. Among their five conditions required for
democratic consolidation- the rule of law to guarantee the exercise of citizenship,
a usable state bureaucracy, an institutionalized economic society, an autonomous
civil society and an autonomous political society-, the first two are associated with
state capacity.
The second approach recognizes that a weak state capacity can be
stumbling block to the stability of the authoritarian regimes as well as the
democratic ones.
In their understanding whereas state weakness becomes
instrumental in the fall of regimes, state strength serves to the entrenchment of
Guillermo O'Donnell, “On the State, Democratization and Some Conceptual Problems: A Latin
American View with Glances at Some Postcommunist Countries”, World Development, Vol. 21,
No. 8 (1993), pp. 1355-69.
Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stephan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation –
Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe. (Baltimore and London: The
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 7.
For the examples of this approach please see Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions: A
Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1979), Robin Luckham, “Democracy and the Military: An Epitaph for Frankenstein’s Monster?”
Democratization Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), pp. 1-16, Richard Snyder, “Path out of Sultanistic
Regimes: Combining Structural and Voluntarist Perspectives” in Houchang E. Chehabi and Juan J.
Linz (eds.) Sultanistic Regimes (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), pp. 49-85,
Eva Bellin, “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Exceptionalism in
Comparative Perspective.” Comparative Politics, Vol. 36, No. 2 (January 2004), pp. 139-57 and
Lucan A. Way, “Authoritarian State Building and the Sources of Regime Competitiveness in the
Fourth Wave.” World Politics, Vol. 57, 2 (January 2005), pp. 231-261.
Theda Skocpol was a pioneer of this view as she discussed that anti-
regime elites and masses overthrow the incumbent regimes as result of state
weakness they did not create but rather exploit.
Her views are particularly
important in the sense that she calls for paying closer attention to the incumbent’s
capacity to resist opposition attempts for regime change shaped by coercive state
capacity rather than being exclusively preoccupied with the strength of the
The approaches linking state capacity fulfill an important function in the
sense that they reveal the significance of state capacity for democracy. In the
absence of state capacity to enforce law, the right of the citizens cannot be
protected and one cannot talk about democracy under these conditions. However,
there is also the need to recognize there are also the cases where the ruling elites
use the state strength to repress citizens’ rights in order to maintain their control
over power. Since this study argues for moving beyond the exclusive
preoccupation with democratization and consolidation of the democratic regimes,
the second approach will abide by the second approach and pay more attention to
the relation between state capacity and authoritarian regime trajectories.
In the literature, state capacity is generally defined as the ability to
formulate and implement policies to achieve certain goals. Although this
definition provides a good starting, this study needs a more comprehensive
definition of the term. Since states have a very broad scope of activities and
functions, state capacity is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon. Since
the study is interested in the relation between different dimensions of state
capacity and the regime trajectories, it is necessary to clarify these different
Different components of state capacity that condition regime trajectories
will be discussed in the remaining part of this section. However, before this, it is
necessary to emphasize that since the study aims to remedy the inefficiencies of
Lucan A. Way, “Authoritarian Failure: How does State Weakness Strengthen Electoral
Competition?” in Andreas Schedler, Electoral Authoritarianism: Dynamics of Unfree Competition
(Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006), pp. 167-180.
Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and
China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 17.
existing state-centered approaches in the literature on ‘color revolutions’, which
are exclusively preoccupied with coercion, it will also consider the components of
state capacity that helps state gain legitimacy. As pointed out by Antonio
Gramsci, a regime needs to obtain the consent of the population to ensure its
survival; blunt coercion is not sufficient by itself.
When regimes become able
to legitimize itself by distributing economic resources of the state or other
legitimacy mechanisms centering on identity, they encounter less difficulty in
their struggle for survival. Main weakness of the coercion-centered analyses of the
Levitsky and Way arises from this point. They cannot explain the emergence of
serious anti-regime activity in countries like Armenia where the coercive state
apparatus is quite strong. This study will take different components of the state
capacity that help the regime to pre-empt the rise of societal discontent in the light
of the guidance provided by Antonio Gramsci and Michael Mann, who draw
attention to the different components of power as discussed in the introduction.
Consequently, it will be showed that with the undermining of state capacity in
dimensions, such as distribution, legitimacy of the regime will be harmed. On the
other hand, the weakening of coercive capacity will damage its autonomy. Both of
these will undermine the regime’s ability to survive as will be discussed in greater
The capacity to monopolize power, control, allegiance and information is
the broadest dimension of state capacity and will be used as the administrative
capacity in this study. According to Weber, the essence of statehood is the ability
of the central government to claim monopoly over the legitimate use of violence
in the territory under its jurisdiction. Sovereign integrity and stable
administrative-military control of the territory within its jurisdiction constitute the
main precondition for any state’s ability to implement policies.
Although Weber’s definition of state is one of the most frequently used
definitions in social science, as Migdal argues, Weber characterizes an ideal-type
Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers,
Theda Skocpol, “Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research” in
Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In,
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 1985), p. 16.
state in this definition and real states differ from each other in the degree they fit
this ideal type.
In reality, as states prove to be incapable of monopolizing the
legitimate use of violence, rival power centers emerge. As central government
loses its control over some portions of state territory to these rival forces, the state
becomes a failed one. When this happens, the state capacities in other areas to be
discussed below suffer in parallel to the state inability to impose its authority over
its territory.
Establishing state monopolies in other fields besides the monopoly over
use of force has also an important role in conditioning the regime trajectories,
although this is generally neglected. Monopoly over commanding loyalty of the
citizens, controlling information and economic resources would provide the ruling
elites with invaluable ability to remain in power. However, as in the case of
monopoly over use of force, absolute monopoly over the fields discussed above
cannot be easily attained.