The Islamic Republic: A Bastion of Stability in the Region?

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The Islamic republic provides an important model to assess the stability of hybrid regimes. This case demonstrates the durability of competitive authoritarianism if the system allows flexibility, adjustments and maneuvering between multiple forces, creating dynamism and even evolutionary change. Hybrid regimes are naturally vulnerable, but by combining the strengths of different types of authoritarianism, they can persist over years. Stabilization requires meticulous balancing between legitimization, cooption, coercion, informal networks and economic growth. While the Islamic Republic appears to be steady regardless of its particular president, Hassan Rouhani further is stabilizing the system due to his broad support-base, his leadership style, his economic policy and his national agenda. With a growing debate over the republican-revolutionary axis, Iranian nationalism buttresses state legitimacy but also may re-shape its theocratic essence. Rouhani probably will take small steps to provide limited freedoms, while maintaining equilibrium between the country’s diverse political forces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-363
Number of pages23
JournalMiddle East Critique
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Editors of Middle East Critique.


  • Arab Spring
  • Hassan Rouhani
  • Iran
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • authoritarianism
  • centrists
  • conservatives
  • corruption
  • democratization
  • economy
  • hybrid regimes
  • reformists


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