The Iranian revolution of 1979 that overthrew the last ruler of the Pahlavi dynasty was one of the largest mass movements of the 20th century. This massive "participation explosion," however, did not culminate in the creation of a democracy. Instead, the Islamic Republic of Iran as a political project since its inception has been a contradictory phenomenon in which the tension between the republican and the Islamic ideological components of the regime had to be worked out and managed.
Methods of Control: Authoritarianism in North Korea, Iran and Ethiopia
The common goal of all authoritarian regimes is to preserve their grip on power, but how they do so varies across a spectrum of repression and control, with major implications for their ability to maintain stability in times of transition. Charles Armstrong examines how the Kim family consolidated a hereditary brand of authoritarianism in North Korea, and what the current transition under Kim Jong Un portends for the regime’s future prospects. Manochehr Dorraj explains how the tensions between the republican and Islamic components of Iran’s regime leave it vulnerable to moments of spontaneous popular participation. And Terrence Lyons looks at the nature of Ethiopia’s party-based authoritarianism and the balancing act required to maintain it.
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When Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's leader of more than 20 years, died in August 2012, many anticipated significant and potentially destabilizing change. However, Ethiopia was never a one-man dictatorship. Rather, the ruling EPRDF party is key to understanding Ethiopia's stability and the regime's ability to remain in control of a diverse country of some 90 million, divided into a complex set of ethnic groups, in a poor region that suffers terrible levels of conflict.