restricted access Menus of Manipulation: Authoritarian Continuities in Central Asian Elections


This paper examines continuities, adaptions and innovations in elite electoral processes in Central Asian states between the Soviet and post-Soviet period. We argue that the authoritarian leaders of these states have utilized menus of manipulation developed during Soviet times to manage potentially challenging electoral processes, adapting these menus to changed circumstances, including the new reality of nominally pluralist political landscapes. The continuities highlighted by this analysis, particularly in the means used to manufacture implausibly high turnout figures and overwhelming vote shares for incumbents and ruling parties, illustrate patterns of autocratic governance practice in Central Asia and the continued relevance of Soviet legacies in understanding electoral processes in the region even more than 25 years after the end of the Soviet period.