Elections of different kinds and importance took place in four of the six GCC states, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, only weeks apart in September and October 2011, arguably marking a new chapter in the political evolution of the Gulf oil monarchies. It is noteworthy that none of these elections were scheduled in response to the year-long political struggles, the Arab spring, which wreaked havoc across the Arab world. The autumn 2011 elections in the GCC monarchies took place in the context of the electoral cycles and participatory procedures which had been consolidating into political processes since the 1990s. What is of interest is that the political process in the oil monarchies had already become institutionalized in these states when the fallout from the Arab spring reached the Arabian Peninsula. While for some the electoral process could be seen as elite recognition of the wider winds of change blowing across the MENA subsystem, it would be erroneous to assume that the current electoral cycles will dramatically change the political landscape of these countries; they are likely to continue to be characterized by top-down change. Where bottom-up pressures have materialized, as in Bahrain and Oman in 2011, and to a lesser extent in Kuwait, very different kinds of responses from the ruling elites have been seen, but none of these states has manifested substantial change in the structures of governance in response to mass protests. Indeed while protest has been rife in Bahrain and Oman, it has been in Kuwait – with the best-established parliamentary system – that the struggle for power has been more explicit. While Oman has responded to protests by accelerating the pace and content of its reforms, Bahrain has been unyielding to pressure from below and has in fact used harsh measures, supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to try and suppress the unrest. The response of the GCC states to the winds of change, then, has not been uniform. This is to be expected, as for all their similarities the oil monarchies are not a homogeneous political group and have in fact never had a uniform strategy for the introduction of political reforms. But it would also be true to say that in the wake of Arab uprisings the differences have become more marked, despite the states’ collective commitment to the continuation of the process of managed change, albeit still controlled from above.