Christian von Soest / Julia Grauvogel

How Do Non-Democratic Regimes Claim Legitimacy? Comparative Insights from Post-Soviet Countries

GIGA Working Paper, No. 277, August 2015

Published as:

Christian von Soest / Julia Grauvogel (2015), Comparing Legitimation Strategies in Post-Soviet Countries, in: Martin Brusis / Joachim Ahrens / Martin Schulze Wessel (eds.), Politics and Legitimacy in Post-Soviet Eurasia, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 18-46

The analysis using the new Regime Legitimation Expert Survey (RLES) demonstrates that non‐democratic rulers in post‐Soviet countries use specific combinations of legitimating claims to stay in power.

Most notably, rulers claim to be the guardians of citizens’ socioeconomic well‐being. Second, despite recurrent infringements on political and civil rights, they maintain that their power is rule‐based and embodies the will of the people, as they have been given popular electoral mandates. Third, they couple these elements with inputbased legitimation strategies that focus on nationalist ideologies, the personal capabilities and charismatic aura of the rulers, and the regime’s foundational myth.

Overall, the reliance on these input‐based strategies is lower in the western post‐Soviet Eurasian countries and very pronounced among the authoritarian rulers of Central Asia.

Related Research at the GIGA

Related Research Tabs

GIGA Authors

Dr. Christian von Soest is a lead research fellow at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs (IAA) and head of the GIGA Research Programme 2 “Peace and Security.” His work focuses on sanctions and other foreign policy interventions, conflict processes, and the domestic and international politics of authoritarian regimes. He leads the GIGA’s contribution to the project B3: “Conflict and Cooperation at the Climate-Security Nexus,” forming part of the “Climate, Climate Change, and Society” (CLICCS) Excellence Cluster of the University of Hamburg (

Dr. Julia Grauvogel

Senior Research Fellow
Speaker Research Team

Dr. Julia Grauvogel is a senior research fellow at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs. She is also the spokesperson for the GIGA Research Team “Interventions and Security,” as well as editor of the journal Africa Spectrum. Her work focuses on authoritarianism, the legitimation strategies of non-democratic regimes, and international sanctions. Currently, she heads the research project “The Termination of International Sanctions: Causes, Processes and Domestic Consequences,” funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG).

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