Thesis Title: The Politics of Succession in Post-Soviet Personalised Autocracies
Abstract: Leadership succession poses one of the most ubiquitous problems in politics. Its disruptive potential is particularly acute in highly personalised autocracies, where formal institutions are weak and political influence is concentrated in the hands of a single leader. Strategic planning for future succession, the transition of power itself, and the consolidation of new leadership open windows of opportunity for transformational change and raise the risk of intra-elite conflict. My research seeks to determine why are some succession strategies chosen over others, how do the elites ensure an orderly transfer of power and why do some strategies generate more stable outcomes than others. These questions will be addressed drawing upon evidence from the post-Soviet space, where personalised autocracy has become the dominant regime type. The differences between the approaches taken by selected Eurasian polities towards managing leadership succession will be leveraged analytically to shed light on underlying dynamics and their consequences.
First Supervisor: Dr Samuel Greene