Thursday, March 22, 2018

Strange Russian Respect

Putin won his election. There was no electoral surprise in Putin's Russia. And no actual rule of law democracy, of course, no matter how much he wants Russians to believe that.

I've noted before that for all that some Westerners excuse non-Western autocrats for not having a "Western" democratic system "imposed" on their "authentic" societies, that every tinpot dictatorship of the secular or religious variety likes to have elections to pretend they have legitimacy based on popular will expressed at the ballot box. Russia is no exception:

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s longest-serving ruler since Joseph Stalin, surprised no one with his landslide re-election on Sunday. While his victory, in which he claimed 73.9 percent of the vote according to state-run exit polls, was a foregone conclusion, the Kremlin was reportedly anxious about turnout, and conducted an elaborate, well-financed get-out-the-vote campaign. For an authoritarian regime in which election results and turnout are pre-ordained, such concerns may seem odd. But even in Russia’s “managed democracy,” appearances still matter, and the Kremlin needed to present believably high levels of support to ensure Putin’s mandate.

If Western democracy is so inauthentic to local cultures, why does every thug ruler hold sham Western-style elections rather than just assert their local history of superior governance?

It's an odd thing. Putin works hard to discredit Western democracy while working just as hard to justify his own increasingly dictatorial rule with the color of rule-based Western-style democracy.