The Color Revolution Virus and Authoritarian AntidotesJournal Article

The Color Revolution Virus and Authoritarian Antidotes

Political Protest and Regime Counterattacks in Post-Communist Spaces
Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies
Wednesday, June 08, 2011


  • Abel Polese1,
  • Donnacha Ó Beacháin2
  • 1Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
  • 2 Dublin City University's School of Law and Government


This paper addresses the post-Communist color revolution phenomenon, utilizing aspects of all the major approaches (structure, agency, diffusion). It surveys the varying degrees of success enjoyed by color revolutionary movements and demonstrates that the color revolutions involved a learning process not only for insurgent forces but for the state that such forces aimed to dislodge. Furthermore, it illuminates the factors that facilitated opposition movements to exploit popular disenchantment, framed in the context of contentious elections, and to transform these protests into a force capable of dislodging the regime. We argue that the ability of potentially vulnerable regimes to observe and digest the reasons for initial color revolution successes assisted them in resisting the further spread of the phenomenon. Accordingly, we maintain there is a strong correlation between the attitudes of a regime—in particular its capacity to produce a backlash—and the failure of a color revolution.


  • authoritarian regimes
  • color revolutions
  • democratization
  • former Soviet spaces
  • social movements

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