Most studies of technocratic populism have focused on democracies under stress (e.g., Italy, Czech Republic). This article builds on and extends these studies by analyzing a hybrid regime—post-Soviet Georgia—and argues that technocratic populism in this context is utilized as a façade to cover authoritarian and oligarchic tendencies, while suspending (or reversing) democratization efforts. The state apparatus is weaponized against current and potential political opponents. Ideology is irrelevant, loyalty is key, and passivity is encouraged. The government aims to chip away at institutional checks and balances, and to demobilize the public by undermining confidence in the country’s representative institutions while increasing dependence on experienced personalities, the ‘can do experts.’ The result is most often a stable partial-reform equilibrium. We illustrate this argument with evidence from Georgia, where Bidzina Ivanishvili, the richest man in the country, came to power in 2012 and, despite not holding any official position in the government since 2013, has run the state as a firm.
- Hybrid regimes
- Technocratic populism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration