Patrimonial Leaders

1-Traditional Rulers

Resisted change and became its victims

Ex. King Farouq of Egypt, Sultan Said of Oman, King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud of S. Arabia, King Idris of Libya, King Mohamed VI of Morocco.

Read and remember: In page 132, there is a detailed discussion of Sultan Said's reactionary policies. In page 133, there is a discussion of King Abdul Aziz's patrimonial / patriarchical policies.

2-Modernizing Rulers:

Keep in mind modernization is not equal to political development or democratization. Ataturk of Turkey, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Bin Billa of Algeria.

Patrimonialism is a term originated by Max Weber. He used it to describe a system of rule based on administrative and military personnel, who were responsible only to the ruler. Nathan Quimpo defines patrimonialism as "a type of rule in which the ruler does not distinguish between personal and public patrimony and treats matters and resources of state as his personal affair."

There are innumerable examples of patrimonial states. Indonesia, under the Suharto administration, is often cited as being patrimonial in its political-economy. The Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos is another oft-cited example. Others have described the Mafia as having patrimonial tendencies.

Julia Adams, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, argues for increased application of the term. She discusses the origins and etymology of the term in Max Weber's work:

In Weber’s Economy and Society, patrimonialism mainly refers to forms of government that are based on rulers’ family-households. The ruler’s authority is personal-familial, and the mechanics of the household are the model for political administration.

The concept of patrimonialism captures a distinctive style of regulation and administration that contrasts with Weber’s ideal-typical rational-legal bureaucracy, a better known concept... Rational-legal bureaucracies are manned by impersonal rulers and substitutable actors; they boast clear-cut spheres of competence, ordered hierarchies of personnel and procedures, and an institutional separation of the 'private' and the 'official'... Weber likens [bureaucracy] to a 'machine' ...

Patrimonialism is more like a manor house... with, one would suppose, particularly extensive grounds. Patrimonial rulers cite 'age-old rules and powers' – sacred tradition – as the basis of their political authority. Their power is discretionary, and the line between persons and offices notional... ...For Weber... patriarchy is at the heart of patrimonialism. Their linguistic connection – 'patrimony' derives from the Latin patrimonium for paternal estate – is also conceptual and sociological. 'Patrimonial domination is thus a special case of patriarchal domination,' Weber writes, 'domestic authority decentralized through assignment of land and sometimes of equipment to sons of the house or other dependents'...


I- Ataturk of Turkey

Turkey Profile


a. Ataturk's Road to power:

Crumbling Ottoman Empireè educated middle-class unsatisfiedè Sultan Abdul Hamid's constitutional reforms were too little and too late è Ottomans defeated in WWI èTurkey was in a complete chaos è  Ataturk appeared as a hero with his army to unite the country and force the British, Russians and Greeks outèin 1922-24 abolition of the sultanate, establishment of the republic, the abolishment of caliphate.

b. Ataturk in power (15 years):

1-      Reforms in administration, education, and law.

2-      Charismatic leadership.

3-      He strengthened the political role of the army as the defender of the secularist system. The military intervened in 1960, 1971, and 1980.

4-      Institutionalization of his leadership in the Republican People's Party.

5-      Autocrat who put all his opponents in jail, exile or execution.

6-      Not devout Muslim and suspicious of the role of religion.

7-      Tried to maintain the class structure except for undermining ulama and expanding the role of professional middle class.

8-      He died in 1938.



Ankara and Capadoccia - Ataturk poster picture




c. Ataturk's successor: Inonu (35 years):

1-      Was perceived as both autocrat (like Attaturk) and liberalizer at the same time.  

2-      Yet he allowed the Democratic party to win elections and form government.



d. In 1981: The military intervened against the Islamist government. The military junta, institutionalized as the National Security Council (NSC), designed a "constitution", which came into effect in November 1982. The main preoccupation of the framers of the 1982 Constitution was to consolidate the secularist-Kemalist characteristic of the regime and to narrow the space for political competition and civil society.

Watch this documentary on the political role of the Army.

Another one (just the first two minutes).

The 1982 Constitution strengthened the position of the military and gave it more prominent institutional role in the political arena.  According to the original article 118:

The National Security Council shall be composed of the Prime Minister, the Chief of the General Staff, the Ministers of National Defense, Internal Affairs, and Foreign Affairs, the Commanders of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force, and the General Commander of the Gendarmerie, under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic.

Depending on the particulars of the agenda, Ministers and other persons concerned may be invited to meetings of the Council and their views be heard.

The National Security Council shall submit to the Council of Ministers its views on taking decisions and ensuring necessary coordination with regard to the formulation, establishment, and implementation of the national security policy of the State. The Council of Ministers shall give priority consideration to the decisions of the National Security Council concerning the measures that it deems necessary for the preservation of the existence and independence of the State, the integrity and indivisibility of the country, and the peace and security of society. (Emphasis added)


Under pressure from the European Union to decrease the political role of the military the Turkish Parliament amended the constitution to increase the number of civilians on the council and to emphasize the advisory role of the Council.  Accordingly, deputy prime ministers and the Minister of Justice became permanent members of the council, thus increasing the number of civilians to at least 6 (depending on the number of deputy prime ministers) compared to the four positions reserved for the military.  Furthermore, the phrase “The Council of Ministers shall give priority consideration to the decisions of the National Security Council” was replaced with “The Council of Ministers shall evaluate decisions of the National Security Council.” 

Changes to the membership of the NSC are not likely to be enough for decreasing the military’s political role.  That goal would require both the strengthening of civilian institution and the redefinition of overall civil-military relations.



e. In 2002: Erdogan, leader of the Islamist-based Justice and Development Party (AK), became prime minister several months after his party's landslide election victory in November 2002.

He had been barred from standing in those elections because of a previous criminal conviction for reading an Islamist poem at a political rally, an action deemed to amount to Islamist sedition and for which he served several months in jail.

1-      In Turkey the prime minister must also be a member of parliament. AK deputy leader Abdullah Gul took on the premiership in the months following the elections, but with Erdogan playing a prominent role, particularly in foreign visits.

2-      Soon after the elections changes to the constitution paved the way for Erdogan to run for parliament in a by-election. He was elected an MP in March 2003. Within days Gul resigned, leaving the way clear for Erdogan to become prime minister.

3-      For many poor Turks, he is something of a working class hero although critics are dismissive of what they see as his populism. From a poor background, he worked as a street seller to help pay for an education. He attended Koranic school before studying economics at university.

4-      As mayor of Istanbul in the mid 1990s he banned alcohol in official municipal buildings and won popularity for improving services. In 1997 the military became alarmed over what it saw as a threat to Turkey's secularism. Erbakan's Welfare Party was banned and he was forced to resign.

5-      Although his new AK party has Islamist roots Erdogan insists that it is committed to secularism, something which the military will watch closely.

6-      He has identified EU entry as a top priority and has promised reforms designed to bring Turkey more closely into line with entry requirements. Erdogan has predicted that Turkey could join in 2012 if these reforms are carried through.


In 2007, parliamentary elections brought the Justice and Development party again to power as in hold of parliament, government and presidency.




Turkish Pol. System According to 1982 Constitution