The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has ranked Turkmenistan at 165 out of 167 countries of the world in its Democracy Index for 2011 (registration required), only slightly above Chad and Korea. The EIU mentions some similarities between Central Asia and the countries of the Middle East and North America undergoing the "Arab Spring" -- rampant corruption and elites controlling the bulk of assets -- but highlights the differences between the two. Although Central Asian nations like Turkmenistan have a "young and restless" population, their unemployment rates have been lower, and the countries' growth in GDP has been more rapid per capita than in MENA. Income disparities have been less. Those factors "reduce the chances of CIS authoritarian regimes being subjected to similar challenges" faced by Arab leaders. While the median income in Central Asia is much lower than in MENA, the EIU also points out that in some energy-rich countries like Turkmenistan, the regime has essentially been able to buy off unrest in the population with subsidies of utilities and food. There's also the different role of social media when the two regions are compared:
Although Internet access is relatively high, especially in urban areas, some CIS countries (Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in particular) are so closed that the chances of political contagion from abroad are reduced significantly.
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