Neopatrimonialism and Regime Endurance in Transnistria

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Virginia Tech

This thesis argues that neopatrimonialism is vital to understanding the power structure of the secessionist Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR), and that neopatrimonial structures have been manipulated by Soviet-era elites to sustain the unrecognized separatist state's independence. The thesis also argues that neopatrimonialism is not a stable structure and its effectiveness in retaining support for the regime has changed over time. The paper provides an empirical analysis of the TMR in order to answer two questions: "To what extent does neopatrimonialism explain the regime endurance of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic?" and "What does the case of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic reveal about neopatrimonialism and regime endurance over time?" The analysis examines the TMR regime's use of Soviet-era industrial and bureaucratic structures, media, party networks, and worker committees to assert and maintain control, distribute patronage, maintain support for secession, and co-opt important interest groups. The paper concludes that although neopatrimonialism is only one of several elements that support the TMR regime's endurance, the analysis of neopatrimonial systems in states with significant neopatrimonialism provides a framework for examining disparate but interwoven elements of a state's political economy.

neopatrimonialism, corruption, Transnistria, quasi-states, state building