Lessons in political change from North Africa

Executive Summary

  • Recent events in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) region have been used by analysts to draw insight into how political change occurs in authoritarian regimes. Several of these analyses have looked at what events in the MENA region mean for North Korea.

  • Stability in the Korean peninsula region is important to Australia's national interests. Australia's four largest trading partners (China, Japan, South Korea, United States) all have strong connections and interests in the region. Political change in North Korea could have a major impact on the region.

  • There are distinct differences between the MENA region and North Korea. Political conditions in North Korea do not reflect those in the MENA region. North Korea can be considered a 'neopatrimonial regime'. Political change in neo-patrimonial regimes differ from other types of authoritarian regime.

  • Two key lessons can be learnt from political change in the MENA region. Firstly, political change is at least a two stage process. The second stage does not necessarily mean 'democratisation'. Secondly, analytical forecasts and reporting on political conditions in authoritarian regimes is unreliable. In the case of North Korea, analytical forecasts and reporting on political conditions are particularly unreliable.

Photo by Leorex

20080123 Political change in NK
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