In the Southern Caucasus and the Black Sea Region
Edited By Ghia Nodia and Christoph H. Stefes
Typical Tin-Pots: Wealth without Welfare in Azerbaijan
ABSTRACT: This chapter provides a theory of redistributive social spending in mineral-rich authoritarian regimes, using the case of Azerbaijan. I analyse health, education and social security spending from 2000 to the present. Under Heidar Aliev (1995–2003) and Ilham Aliev (2003–present) there is little evidence of desire on the part of the government to engage in redistribution. I find that in the absence of potential challenges from within Azerbaijan’s cohesive elite structure, the Alievs have not depended on societal allies to maintain their rule, so welfare spending remains low. Due to the empirical and theoretical significance of redistribution under authoritarianism, this explanatory approach makes both substantive and theoretical contributions to the study of authoritarianism and the “resource curse” both within and beyond the former Soviet Union.
KEYWORDS: authoritarianism, resource curse, welfare spending, redistribution, elites, Azerbaijan.
In May 2012, Azerbaijan hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual competition held among many active members of the European Broadcasting Division. In preparation for this event and the influx of foreign media, competitors and spectators, the Azerbaijani government embarked on a massive construction campaign to renovate parts of downtown Baku and build Crystal Hall, the site of the contest. A Transitions Online investigative report found that this was the most expensive Eurovision in history, where the state spent upwards of 550 million manat ($720 million) on costs directly and “indirectly” related to the song contest (Sultanova, 2012). By comparison, Russia, Norway and Germany, the respective 2009, 2010...
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