Agential Impediments to Change
There is a divide between Yemen’s formal political and technocratic elite (irrespective of party membership), and the power elite (President Saleh and his inner circle), regarding the perceptions of threat facing the country:
- The formal elite perceive the most fundamental cause of Yemen’s problems in strongly agential terms.
- 75 percent of questionnaire participants nominated “leadership” as the cause of Yemen’s most serious problems, with a further six percent nominating it as one of the causes.President Saleh is thus seen as the primary cause of the government’s malaise.
- The collective belief that Yemen faces a serious crisis suggests that the president’s preference for tone-deaf yes-men over the political and technocratic advisors that he once favoured has left him without a nuanced understanding of the changes underway in Yemeni society.
- In seeking to cement a power-hierarchy that protects the political settlement of the inner-circle, the regime has little agility to deal with scenarios that do not fit within its narrow model of expected behaviours. If society deviates from that model, the institutions builtby the regime are poorly equipped to adapt to it. Structural restrictions are perceived to be tight for those outside the regime’s inner circle, but the room for agency within it is perceived tobe high.