We can say that mass mobilization is one of the most important and inspiring forces for any type of political change in the society. According to Radnitz (2010) “The trigger that brings about mass mobilization is set off when the regime challenges embedded elites. Both elites and their communities have an interest in maintaining their mutually beneficial clientelistic relationship” (p.33). It is simply outstanding for the cause of any movement, when the ordinary citizens take the streets in large numbers demanding some thing that they have not been given. Some times these common people can easily topple an undemocratic government. In the book of Scott Radnitz, Weapons of the Wealthy, he has mentioned the peaceful uprisings the different countries after the Cold war. In the book, he deliberately tries to investigate how the protests and other aspects of the processes have been arranged and how they are implemented in the process.
According to Radnitz (2010) in his work he clearly states that “Protest is not a tool of the weak alone. The benefits of a show of collective public outrage-generating sympathy for a cause, delegitimizing rival actors, building new coalitions for political action-can be harnessed by strong actors as well as by weak ones” (p.15). Some times he has even mentioned that the origins of the protests were not even that sophisticated in the beginning of the movement and at a point of the movement, some elite actors actually advanced their interests and that has really propelled the movement. The most importance of the discussion has been focused on the regimes of post-Soviet Central Asia.
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According to the views of Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way (2012) it can be stated that
The end of Cold War posed a fundamental challenge to authoritarian regimes. Single party and military dictatorships collapsed throughout Africa, post-Communist Eurasia, and much of Asia and Latin America in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the same time, the formal architecture of democracy-particularly multiparty elections-diffused across the globe (p.3).
The analysis of the book is build on the in-in depth field work and special analysis of the spatial distribution of the protests that ultimately goes to demonstrate how the post-independence developments of the Kyrgyzstanis ultimately formed the basic of the elite-led mobilization. Radnitz (2010) clearly notes in this context that “There are several insurance strategies that can be used by independent elite contenders that do not take place within formal political institutions. One is to exercise leverage by maintaining the option of exit” (p.19).
There is a special quality in the elites; they always have the withdrawal power as well as the mobilizing capability that can trigger serious protests. While in the second book, Competitive Authorization: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War by Steven Levitsky and Lucan A. Way, the content is mainly focused on the different competitive authoritarian regimes. In the cases the autocrats ultimately submit their rules to a meaningful multiparty electoral process, but before doing so these autocrats engage in serious democratic abuse. Here there are descriptions of different cases from places like Asia, Iran, Africa, between 1990 and 2008.
It goes to find out that the social, economical and technical ties with the Western culture were quite serious for the autocrats and ultimately it back fired in the process. Where the ties were not quite strong, the democratic process was not really that fast or in cases, still the people are under the rules of the autocrats. In this type of special cases, the outcomes of the regime are always fixed on the basic character of the state as well as the capability of the ruling party.
The theoretical approaches of both the writers are different entirely. In the book, Weapons of the Wealthy, the writer tries to focus on the individual grievances of the civil society while Levitsky and Way (2010) try to focus on the state structures. But in the way of studying the protest dynamics, Radnitz (2010) some times loses his track that can be quite important for any regime change process, like the basic weaknesses of state and the overall economical conditions of the country and the common people, which can be termed as the two most important triggers of any mass protest in the World. His main focus is the Tulip Revolution of 2005, which is the first peaceful change of power in Central Asia after the liberalization of Soviet Russia. It should be viewed as a result of the strategic action caused by the elite class, rather than an expression of the popular will.
The Tulip Revolution is also known as First Kyrgyz Revolution, and it overthrew Askar Akayev, the president of Kyrgyzstan after the parliamentary elections. It was believed that the president and his associates became corrupt and authoritative in the ruling time and it finally ended their rule. After the revolution, Akayev flew from the country and ultimately settled in Russia and on April 4, after about one month of the revolution signed his resignation statement in the country’s embassy in Moscow.
One of the most important leaders of the Tulip Revolution was Givi Targamadze, who was a member of the Liberty Institute and he tried to stick to a non-violent course of action as he discussed the plan of the movement with the opposition leaders. In the initial stages of the revolution, there are some reports of non-violent actions, mostly in the city of Jalal-Abad. After the fall of the Government, wide scale looting went on there are three people were killed. But after that it was a non-violent struggle.
Before the election, the general opposition of the Kyrgyz Government always suffered from a kind of internal divisioning. If we look at the history, we will see that in the Georgian and Ukranian revolutions, the opposition parties became united in the process of removing the governments. Different forces in the case, tried to join together and fight the election as a coalition but mostly they lacked is a leader or a candidate who has the charisma to inspire the people. This ultimately made way for a more populist revolution. The election fraud of Roza Otunbaeva, who was a foreign minister at a point of time and also an ambassador to both USA and the UK, as well as the works of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, another former prime minister of the country also backed the claims of the people.
Huge number of people embarked on a rally in Osh on 19th March as they claimed themselves as ‘Opposition Congress’. They called a ‘kurultai’ and even successfully set up a people’s council. The people’s council directly challenged the administration and claimed it as a parallel government of the country. As per one of the leaders of the movement, Anvar Artykov, they tried to keep the authority until all of the demands of the people are met by the Government. They even said that it will only be done when the current government resigns from the post and makes way for a new and more effective government. At that point of time, many high ranking Government personals, including police administrators and other administrative people switched sides and it really made the Government quite weak.
Some violence spread all over the country on March 21. At that time, the President ordered the Central Election Committee to investigate the violence in the sensitive areas. He even dismissed his Internal Affairs minister and General Prosecutor with the charges that they failed to serve the people on March 23. But with the passage of time, the protests became more and more widespread, and in the Uzbek towns of the Southern parts of the town. The government is alleged with massive amount of corruption and frauds. Manipulations in election results were also came to the fore.
On March 24, large crowd gathered before the main government building of the city of Bishkek, and as the police started to beat the crowd, large number of the common people entered into the building and occupied the building as well as the state television building. On that day, the President and his family flew to Kazakhstan and subsequently to Russia. But the Prime Minister resigned from his post and the opposition took the control over all the important state organs.
Later the Supreme Court declared the election results invalid and Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a southerner became the acting prime minister. But law and order was out of hand and lootings and vandalisms were frequent. The next day, some armed supporters of the former President Akayev tried to enter the town of Bishkek, but later backed as they understood they will not have the support. On April 5 President Akayev resigned from presidency in Moscow, and the Kyrgyz parliament debated for a week before granting the resignation on April 11. The country had its new Presidential elections on July 2005. At that time Felix Kulov and Kurmanbek Bakiyev made a deal before the elections. It made Kurmanbek Bakiyev win the elections with huge numbers. He became the President and Felix Kulov became the Prime Minister of the country.
As per the belief of Radnitz (2010) the elite class is the main factor of any regime change but the other two writers believe that the basic and independent economic activities of a country is the main factor of the proper revolutionary aspect of the country. However, it should be noted that at this given point none of the theories can be wholeheartedly accepted or rejected. Maybe the truth is a combination of both theories.
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