DiSPeS Working Paper 03 (2013) : [1] Collection home page

Giuseppe Ieraci
Fallen Idols. State Failure and the Weakness of Authoritarianism

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2013Fallen Idols. State Failure and the Weakness of AuthoritarianismIeraci, Giuseppe
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The Author tackles the RoA thesis, and opposes to it the ‘Weakness of Authoritarianism’ (WoA) argument. According to the latter, the authoritarian regimes are politically poorly institutionalized, as it is proved by their incapacity to transmit the political power peacefully and smoothly. Therefore, the authoritarian regimes are by definition on the verge of breakdown, they are constitutively weak and they can only precariously survive only as long as some regime factors (a political party, a bureaucracy penetrated by the dominant elite, a loyal and efficient coercive apparatus) manage to stem social and political mobilization against the power incumbents. The institutionalization of the coercive apparatus should not be considered in itself, but together with other aspects of the political institutionalization of a given regime. Some evidence is drawn from the recent cases of regime breakdown in the Middle East and North Africa.

L’autore prende in considerazione la tesi della “robustezza dell’autoritarismo” (RoA), avanzando l’argomento opposto della “debolezza dell’autoritarismo” (WoA). In base a questo argomento, i regimi autoritari risultano deboli a causa della loro bassa istituzionalizzazione, come mostrato dalla loro incapacità di trasmettere il potere pacificamente e regolarmente. I regimi autoritari sono, quindi, per definizione prossimi al crollo e deboli. La loro sopravvivenza può essere assicurata da alcuni fattori del regime (un partito politico, una burocrazia penetrata da una elite dominante, un apparato di coercizione leale ed efficiente) che riescano a canalizzare la mobilitazione politica contro i detentori del potere. L’istituzionalizzazione dell’apparato di coercizione, pertanto, dovrebbe essere considerato in congiunzione con altri aspetti dell’istituzionalizzazione politica di un dato regime. Alcune evidenze sono tratte dai recenti casi si crollo di regime nel Medio oriente e nel Nord Africa.


Giuseppe Ieraci, is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences of Trieste University, Italy, and teaches courses in Theory of Democracy and Public Policy. His research interests are in the fields of democratic theory, party systems and political institutions, and policy analysis. His recent publications include: ‘Governments, Policy Space and Party Positions in the Italian Parliament (1996-2001)’, South European Society & Politics, 12 (2006), Governments and Parties in Italy. Parliamentary Debates, Investiture Votes and Policy Positions (1994-2006), Leicester, Troubador Pub. Ltd (2008), L’analisi delle politiche pubbliche, Rome, Aracne (2009), ‘Measures of Freedom, Democracy and the Freedom in the World Index’, Quaderni di Scienza Politica, XVII (2010).