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[Luong][2000][CPS][P][C] Institutional Design Transitional

[Luong][2000][CPS][P][C] Institutional Design Transitional

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COMPARATIVEPOLITICALSTUDIES/June2000JonesLuong/INSTITUTIONALDESIGN,TRANSITIONALSTATES
This article integrates historical and rational choice approaches to institutional origin andchange to explain the establishment of electoral systems in three former Soviet Central Asianrepublics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. It argues that institutions designed undertransitional circumstances are products of the interaction between the preceding historical andinstitutional setting and the dynamic uncertainty that surrounds them. Strategic actors engagedintheprocessofinstitutionaldesignusebothcontextsinordertoassessthedegreetoanddirec-tion in which their relative power is changing. They then negotiate accordingly so as to attaintheir preferred institutional outcomes. Central Asia’s electoral systems in particular can be bestunderstood as the product of very similar and long-standing regional power struggles beingplayed out under varying dynamic and uncertain conditions.
AFTER THE BREAK-UPInstitutional Design in Transitional States
PAULINE JONES LUONGYale University
T
hepoliticalandeconomictransformations
occurring across the for-merSovietUnionprovideuswithbothauniqueopportunityandapress-ingneedtostudyinstitutionaloriginandchange.Yet,atthiscriticaljuncture,theory in comparative politics remains limited in its ability to help us under-stand and explain these phenomena. Until recently, scholars engaged in thestudyofinstitutionsdirectedtheirattentionandresearchtowardilluminatingthe effects of various institutional structures rather than their causes. As aresult, we know far more about the consequences of certain types of institu-tions than we do about how they originate and change.
563AUTHOR’S NOTE:
I would like to thank the following individuals for their thoughtful com-ments: Robert H. Bates, Timothy J. Colton, Matthew Evangelista, Henry Hale, Stephen E. Hanson, Stephen Holmes, Minh A. Luong, Victoria Murillo, Daniel Posner, Theda Skocpol, Richard Snyder, Valerie Sperling, Celeste Wallander, Erika Weinthal, and two anonymousreviewers. I am particularly indebted to Erika Weinthal for numerous discussions and multipleclose readings of the analysis and case studies presented herein. I would also like to acknowl-edge the generous research and writing support of the International Research and Exchange Board and the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, respectively. I alone, of course, take full responsibility for the final product.
COMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES, Vol. 33 No. 5, June 2000 563-592© 2000 Sage Publications, Inc.
 
Thisisespeciallytrueofelectoralsystems.Althoughthereexistsasignifi-cantliteraturelinkingparticularelectoralsystemsdirectlytocertainpoliticaloutcomes,fewstudiesfocusexplicitlyontheoriginanddevelopmentoftheseparticular electoral systems (e.g., see Lijphart, 1985).
1
Yet, the struggle todefine the nature of electoral systems is at the center of transitional politics.Particularly in a new state, they are the rules of the game that matter mostbecause they determine who will set future rules of the game. Electoral sys-tems are also an important institution for gauging political change becausethey serve as a crucial benchmark for assessing the level of a country’s com-mitment to democratization. In sum, they are an important first step towardestablishing independent statehood as well as winning the approval of theinternational community. It is not surprising, then, that electoral systems areoftenthefirstinstitutionthatpoliticalactorsinnewstates,orstatesundergo-ing transition, seek to design, in an effort to gain internal recognition and tobolster external legitimacy.Thisarticletakesafirstcutatexplaininginstitutionaloriginandchangeintransitional states by explaining the establishment of electoral systems inthree former Soviet Central Asian republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, andUzbekistan. These three states provide a fertile testing ground for two mainreasons.First,despitefundamentalhistoricalandstructuralsimilarities,theirelectoral systems vary in significant ways. This allows us to hold constanttheir common features to isolate other factors, such as elite bargaining,which recent studies of both democratic transitions and electoral systemshave consistently emphasized over historical and structural legacies inexplaininginstitutionaloutcomes(e.g.,seeBawn,1993;Brady&Mo,1992;Colomer, 1991; Geddes, 1996; O’Donnell & Schmitter, 1986; Przeworski,1991).Second,itisinCentralAsiawherescholarlyaccountsledustoexpectthe greatest break with the Soviet past, through the emergence (orreemergence) of tribal, religious, or national identities and institutions thatwere long suppressed under Soviet rule.
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Yet, a close look at the establish-ment of electoral systems in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan indi-catesthecontinuedstrengthofpoliticalpreferencesandpracticesinheritedfrom the Soviet period. Although it produced markedly different outcomes
564 COMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES / June 20001. Two notable exceptions are Bawn (1993) and Brady and Mo (1992).2. Following the Soviet Union’s collapse, the vast majority of scholars working on CentralAsiapredictedeithertheresurrectionofpre-SovietidentitiesandinstitutionsintheformoftribaldivisionsandIslamicfundamentalism,ortheviolentrejectionoftheSovietlegacyintheformof nationalismandethnicconflict(e.g.,seeHaghayegdi,1994;Kaumkin,1994;Olcott,1994).Oth-ers claimed that Soviet institutions had left Central Asia virtually untransformed from itspre-Soviet cultural and historical past. (e.g., see Fierman, 1991).
 
in each newly independent state, the entire process by which electoral sys-tems were established in these three states was deeply embedded in theSoviet institutional legacy they share. Thus, the experience of these threestates also calls into question rational choice-based models of institutionaldesign that focus exclusively on elite bargaining to explain outcomes.Explaining the establishment of electoral systems in Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, therefore, requires understanding not only theoutcome of institutional design but also the intricacies of the process thatleads to this outcome. Current approaches, however, give greater weight toilluminating either the institutional design process or its outcome. Rationalchoice institutionalism (RCI) focuses on explaining institutions as the out-come of strategic bargaining between goal-oriented actors rather than eluci-dating the nature of this bargaining process. Historical institutionalism (HI)sheds light on the process by which individuals formulate the interests andstrategiesthattheybringtothebargainingtableratherthanhowtheirinterestsand strategies translate directly into outcomes. The explanatory power of both of these approaches is further limited by the fact that neither provides asatisfactory link between process and outcome in a dynamic setting. What isneeded,then,isanintegrativeapproach,thatis,onethatincorporatesrationalchoice institutionalism and historical institutionalism’s respective insightsand builds on them to address their mutual limitations.
3
Thepurposeofthisarticleistodevelopandtestsuchanapproach.Ibeginby briefly describing both the similarity in process and the variation in out-come that characterized the establishment of electoral systems inKazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. I then turn to the currentapproaches to institutional origin and change, which I argue have muchgreater explanatory power when their insights and limitations are treated aspoints of convergence rather than points of departure. In the following sec-tions,Idevelopatransitionalbargaininggametocapturethesepointsofcon-vergenceparsimoniously,fromwhichIgenerateseveralhypothesesandthentestthemempiricallyineachCentralAsiancase.Finally,Iconcludebyhigh-lightingtheimplicationsofmyfindingsfordevelopingabroaderunderstand-ing of institutional design in transitional states.
Jones Luong / INSTITUTIONAL DESIGN, TRANSITIONAL STATES 5653. This requires a sharp break with present scholarship, which, for the most part, empha-sizes the points of departure between rational choice institutionalism (RCI) and historicalinstitutionalism (HI) rather than their potential points of convergence (e.g., see Thelen &Steinmo, 1992; Tsebelis, 1990; Weingast, 1996).

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