FEEM working papers "Note di lavoro" series
2014 .104

On the Timing of Political Regime Changes: Theory and Application to the Arab Spring

Authors: Raouf Boucekkine, Fabien Prieur, Klarizze Puzon
Series: Economy and Society
Editor: Giuseppe Sammarco
Keywords: Political Transitions, Revolution, Natural Resources, Optimal Timing, Regime Switching, Dynamic Game
JEL n.: C61, D74, Q34


We develop a continuous time dynamic game to provide with a benchmark theory of Arab Spring-type events. We consider a resource-dependent economy with two interacting groups, the elite vs. the citizens, and two political regimes, dictatorship vs. a freer regime. Transition to the freer regime can only be achieved if citizens decide to revolt given the concession/repression policy of the elite. Departing from the related literature, the revolution optimal timing is an explicit control variable in the hands of citizens. The elite is the strategic leader: she ultimately chooses her policy knowing the reaction function of citizens. In this framework, we provide with a full equilibrium analysis of the political regime switching game and notably emphasize the role of the direct switching cost of the citizens and of the elite's self-preservation options. In particular, we show how the incorporation of explicit revolution timing may change the conventional wisdom in the related institutional change literature. Finally, we emphasize how the theory may help explaining some key features of the Arab Spring.


Suggested citation: Boucekkine, R., F. Prieur, K. Puzon, (2014), 'On the Timing of Political Regime Changes: Theory and Application to the Arab Spring', Nota di Lavoro 104.2014, Milan, Italy: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

Download file
Download PDF file

FEEM Newsletter & Update

Subscribe to stay connected.

Your personal data will be processed by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei. – data Controller – with the aim of emailing the FEEM newsletter & Update. The use of Your email address is necessary for the implementation of the newsletter service. You are invited to read the Privacy Policy in order to obtain additional information about the protection of Your rights.

This Website uses technical cookies and cookie analytics, as well as “third party” profiling cookies.
If you close this banner or you decide to continue navigating on this Website, you express consent to the use of cookies. If you need additional information or you wish to express selective choices on the use of cookies, please refer to the   Cookie PolicyI agree