Putin consolidating power

putin consolidating power-75
In order to fix things, Putin would need to undo the very factors that make his government durable in the short term: his installation of loyal cronies throughout the government, his development of a cult of personality in the Russian press, and his decision to keep political parties weak to forestall challengers.Trying to cement his legacy would, somewhat ironically, jeopardize his own power.But the problem with strongman rule is that the strongmen are not immortal, and once they fall ill or die, it’s not obvious who will replace them.

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“Putin has the capacity to designate a successor ...

but even this could prove a heavy lift for the system.” Hill points to several features of the Russian political system that would make it tough for “the next Mr. The first is that Putin’s government depends heavily on personal loyalty.

Domestic problems in leading democracies like the United States and the United Kingdom, the slide toward strongman rule in places like Turkey and Hungary, and the rising global assertiveness of Russia and China all suggest to some that the future may belong to authoritarians.

But that analysis assumes these authoritarian governments are actually as stable as they seem. The world’s strongmen may reign for years, perhaps decades — but their inevitable deaths will expose political systems built on rickety foundations.

A second flaw in Putin’s system, Hill suggests, is the way it celebrates the personal qualities of the man himself.

Official Russian propaganda emphasizes his strength and manliness — see all of those famous shirtless photo ops — depicting him as a kind of father figure for the Russian state.United Russia, the leading Putin-aligned faction in Russia’s legislature, doesn’t have much in the way of actual governing responsibilities; it mostly rubber-stamps Putin’s decisions.Real political parties, like the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, can handpick successors and help facilitate a smooth transfer of power.I don’t think Putin himself even knows what he’s going to do,” Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a Russia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me.There are ways to stave off this problem — and Putin shows no signs of ill health, which means he should have quite a few years left to work on this problem.Putin has played up this cult of personality, doing things like taking phone calls from random Russian citizens on television to emphasize his personal role in solving people’s problems.If Putin is “incapacitated in some way,” Hill warns, “this changes the system’s operating context.” A third issue — and perhaps the most fundamental — is that Putin hasn’t built up a strong political party to solidify his regime.“The elites who have clout,” she writes, “have been recruited from a network of personal relationships spanning Putin’s youth in Soviet Leningrad and his entire career.” There is no guarantee that those people could be counted on to remain loyal to any one successor rather than devolving into infighting over who gets to control what after Putin’s death.Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin’s death in 1924, to take one historical example, triggered a violent factional dispute in the Soviet Communist Party — one that ended only when a particularly ruthless Soviet official named Josef Stalin managed to consolidate power.Strongmen in other major countries, like Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (63) and China’s Xi Jinping (64), aren’t young men.All of these leaders have created political systems that revolve around their own personal influence and support networks.


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