Bako and Mrs. Sahakyan vote in Mar. 2017 referendum. Photolur.

The latest edition of the Caucasus Analytical Digest published by the Center for Security Studies ETH Zurich focuses on domestic politics, external relations and public opinion inside the de-facto states of the South Caucasus.

A paper by Donnacha Ó Beacháin of Dublin City University looks at electoral politics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia a

nd Nagorno Karabakh, now spanning more than two decades and half a dozen electoral cycles in each; Giorgio Comai also of Dublin City University looks at the de-facto states’ external relations; and Gerard Toal (Virginia Tech) and John O’Loughlin (University of Colorado) review their work on public opinion. The volume is concluded by a documentation page that outlines the “basic facts” about the three.

Ó Beacháin looks at presidential and parliamentary elections in the three de-facto states, and analyzes them for competitiveness, as well as participation women and ethnic minorities. Considering the recently adopted constitution, he argues that “NKR followed a regional trend that has seen presidents in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and much of Central Asia propose changes to the constitution to enhance or extend their powers and/or time in office.”

Comai compares relative dependence of de-facto states on their patron states. Thus, between 2012-15, Nagorno Karabakh relied on Armenia for on average 57 percent of its income; Abkhazia relied on Russia for more than 60 percent and South Ossetia – on about 90 percent. Comai also analyzes contents of web sites of the de-facto states’ foreign ministries and contrasts their focus with that of recognized states.

Comparing data from 2010-11 and 2013-14 surveys, Toal and O’Loughlin find a small but noticeable shift in Karabakh respondents’ preference with Armenia rather than independent status, from 42 to 52 percent in more recent survey. They also found strong public trust in the president of Nagorno Karabakh, though declining slightly from 87 to 82 percent.