Bert Hoffmann

The international dimension of authoritarian regime legitimation: insights from the Cuban case

Journal of International Relations and Development, 18, 2015, 556–574
ISBN/ISSN
1581-1980
Publisher website | DOI

In order to sustain their rule, authoritarian regimes not only rely on mechanisms of repression and co-optation, but also develop strategies of legitimation. Even when aimed at the domestic audience, these include seeking ‘legitimation from abroad’ — that is, validation through activities on, or by way of reference to, the international stage. This article analyses these strategies in an empirical case study of Cuba. Bringing back in Max Weber’s classic ‘pure types of legitimate authority’, which distinguish between regimes precisely on the basis of their claims to legitimacy, the study highlights the change from charismatic rule under Fidel Castro to an authoritarian brand of rational-legal authority under his brother Raúl. The analysis then shows how the expansive international legitimation strategy that once characterised Fidel’s charismatic tenure has given way to a merely defensive form of international legitimation under the present bureaucratic socialist regime.

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GIGA Authors

Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann

Lead Research Fellow
Head GIGA Berlin Office

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