The 'new regionalism' has spread to Central Asia; yet there has been little success in implementing most regional initiatives there. Security regionalism has had greater success than economic regionalism, even though economic initiatives would bring great benefits to the economy and population. I propose a connection between patrimonialism and regionalism. Central Asia's patrimonial leaders are driven by survival and personal enrichment, and are beholden to informal vested interests. Since economic regionalism involves liberalisation that adversely affects these actors, the result is 'virtual' economic regionalism at best. In the case of security regionalism, some regional organisations progress because they bolster patrimonial regimes, with negative consequences for democracy.