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date: 13 June 2024

Military, Security, and Politics in Regime Change: Explaining the Power Trianglelocked

Military, Security, and Politics in Regime Change: Explaining the Power Trianglelocked

  • Hazem KandilHazem KandilDepartment of Political Sociology, University of Cambridge

Summary

Regimes change constantly. Revolution, reform, and resilience are not discrete phenomena, but rather different modes in a common process. This means that change is not a distinct outcome to be explained, but an ongoing process to be traced over time. This requires a shift in focus from why change happens to how it actually unfolds. Social competition is the main driver, as social realists like Pierre Bourdieu indicate. Yet complex and continuous social interactions are impossible to account for in their entirety. Various aspects should be tackled in separate, complementary studies. One of those is power relations within the ruling bloc; the oscillation between conflict and collaboration between political, military, and security institutions. These three state institutions are necessary to govern society. But their relative weight shapes regime type. Security domination produces a police state, the most resilient form of authoritarianism. Egypt in 2011 provides a good example. Military guardianship has been, historically, more susceptible to piecemeal reforms, and can evolve to limited democracies. Turkey after 2002 is one instance. An overbearing political institution with weak military and security organs is vulnerable to revolutionary overthrow. The Iran of 1979 is archetypical. And the reason why relations within this “power triangle” remain tense and volatile is that while these three institutions share an interest in regulating society, they espouse different institutional agendas. They reinforce each other when their interests overlap, and clash when one institutional logic must be prioritized over the other two. And it is these recurring moments of discord that keep the path to regime change open.

Subjects

  • Governance/Political Change
  • Political Institutions

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