For years, studies of state formation in early and medieval Europe have argued that the modern, representative state emerged as the result of negotiations between autocratic governments in need of tax revenues and citizens who were only willing to consent to taxation in exchange for greater government accountability. This paper presents evidence that similar dynamics shaped the formation of Somaliland’s democratic government. In particular, it shows that government dependency on local tax revenues -- which resulted from its ineligibility for foreign assistance -- provided those outside the government with the leverage needed to force the development of inclusive, representative and accountable political institutions.
The UAE has a very large income for its size. The rulers own the country's vast oil wealth and spread enough of it around to the UAE citizens that none of them is indigent. The lesson from Somaliland would suggest there's no threat that the rulers will find themselves compelled to adopt major democratic reforms. So why the crackdown on the few activists who have spoken out?
The UAE's vulnerability is external -- it's a plum ripe for the picking by its neighbor, Iran.
Labels: rentier state, UAE government