The Quran and the Sword: The Strategic Game between Autocratic Power, the Military and the Clerics

77 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2020

See all articles by Emmanuelle Auriol

Emmanuelle Auriol

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE); University of Toulouse I - Advanced Research in Quantitative Applied Development Economics (ARQADE); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Jean‐Philippe Platteau

University of Namur

Thierry Verdier

Paris School of Economics (PSE); Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

This paper elucidates the willingness of an autocrat to push through institutional reforms in a context where traditional authorities represented by religious clerics are averse to them and where the military control the means of repression and can potentially make a coup. We show that although the autocrat always wants to co-opt the military, this is not necessarily true of the clerics. Empirically, the dominant regime in contemporary Muslim countries is the regime of double co-option. Exclusive co-option of the military obtains only where the autocrat's intrinsic legitimacy and the loyalty of his army are strong while the organizational strength of religious movements is rather low. Radical institutional reforms can then be implemented. Rent economies where ultra-conservative clerics are powerful enough to block any institutional reform that they dislike represent another polar case. More frequently, the autocrat resorts to a double-edged tactic: pleasing the official clerics by slowing the pace of reforms, and ensuring the loyalty of the military to be able to put down an opposition instigated by rebel clerics.

Keywords: army, Autocracy, instrumentalization of religion, Islam, reforms

JEL Classification: D02, D72, N40, O57, P48, Z12

Suggested Citation

Auriol, Emmanuelle and Platteau, Jean‐Philippe and Verdier, Thierry, The Quran and the Sword: The Strategic Game between Autocratic Power, the Military and the Clerics (May 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14712, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3594347

Emmanuelle Auriol (Contact Author)

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) ( email )

Place Anatole-France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

University of Toulouse I - Advanced Research in Quantitative Applied Development Economics (ARQADE) ( email )

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Toulouse, 31000
France
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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Jean‐Philippe Platteau

University of Namur ( email )

8 rempart de la vierge
Namur, 5000
Belgium

Thierry Verdier

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014
France

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) - Department of Economics ( email )

Rua Marques de Sao Vicente, 225/206F
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22453
Brazil

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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