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New article by Adele del Sordi on "The Relation between External and Internal Authoritarian Legitimation"


"The Relation between External and Internal Authoritarian Legitimation" is in focus of the latest article by Dr. Adele del Sordi, postdoctoral researcher at the Graduate School in Munich, which has been published in the "Taiwan Journal of Democracy". In her paper, Del Sordi explores the "Religious Foreign Policy of Morocco and Kazakhstan" to investigate the mechanisms of authoritarian legitimation.

The Taiwan Journal of Democracy (TJD) is a refereed journal devoted to the study of democratic politics, in general, and democratic development in Taiwan and in other Asian democracies, in particular. Guest editor of the most recent issue is Professor Laurence Whitehead, Senior Research Fellow of Political Studies at the Nuffield College, Oxford University. He contributed to the issue with an article about "Three Angles on the Alliance Options of Authoritarian Regimes".

Since November 2017, Adele Del Sordi is a postdoctoral researcher at the Graduate School of East and Southeast European Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. She holds a PhD in Political Systems and Institutional Change from the Institute of Advanced Studies (IMT) in Lucca, Italy. Her research interests include the stability of authoritarian regimes, nation branding, higher education, post-Soviet politics, authoritarian legitimation and diffusion. A qualitative-oriented scholar, she has conducted extensive fieldwork in Kazakhstan between 2011 and 2017.

Abstract of Adele's article

How do authoritarian regimes use their international activities to boost legitimacy at home? The mechanisms that connect authoritarian international activities and domestic legitimation remain understudied. This essay sets out to fill this gap by presenting an attempt at creating a theory about the phenomenon - the dynamic legitimation model. This model connects two distinct actions: on the one hand, authoritarian elites observe the international context and produce discourses and policies that aim to create a positive country image, or brand. On the other hand, authoritarian leaders use the international recognition they consequently obtain to legitimize their rule at home, by presenting themselves as internationally praised role models. As in a hall of mirrors, the recognition achieved in the international context is discursively translated into evidence of good performance in front of the domestic population. The essay demonstrates this argument by illustrating how two contemporary authoritarian regimes, Morocco and Kazakhstan, actively try to conform to international discourses on religion, particularly regarding the promotion of moderate Islam and interfaith dialogue, while adapting their strategies to the situation at home. In addition, it shows how they capitalize on the praise they obtain in the atempt to boost legitimacy at home.

Adele Del Sordi: The Relation between External and Internal. Authoritarian Legitimation: The Religious Foreign Policy of Morocco and Kazakhstan. In: Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 14/1, 2018, pp. 95-116. (Article as .pdf open access)