The Origins of Coercive Institutions in the Middle East: Preliminary Evidence from Egypt
30 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2018
Date Written: August 26, 2018
Robust coercive apparatuses are credited for the Middle East’s uniquely persistent authoritarianism, but little work exists analyzing their origins. In this paper, we present an original theory regarding the origins of coercive institutions in contemporary authoritarian regimes like those in the Middle East. More specifically, we argue that post-independence authoritarian coercive capabilities are shaped by pre-independence institution-building, largely dictated by the interests of colonial powers who dictated state development projects. We depart from existing general theories about the origins of coercive institutions, in which authoritarian leaders have full autonomy in constructing coercive institutions when they come to power, and in which the military is the primary source of the state’s institution. Instead, we argue that authoritarian leaders coming to power in the twentieth century, after major state building occurred, inherit states with certain predetermined resources and capabilities, and coercive institutions. We support our theory with preliminary budgetary and employment data from 1880 to 1960 in Egypt. Our results demonstrate significant continuity rather than disruption through the 1952 Free Officers Coup that effectively liberated Egypt from British influence.
Keywords: Middle East, police, militaries, democratization
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