The New Wave Of Elected Dictatorships Around The World

If there is one overriding lesson to adduce from the last decade’s world events it must be this: elections alone do not a democracy make. Elections without democratic institutions merely lead to elected dictatorships, indeed to a kind of mob rule.

Beneath the roiling surface of explosive news events a far more deeply worrying current has set in across the world: the triumph of elected dictatorships. Until the last decade or so history was familiar with essentially two types of states, democratic and non-democratic. Now we have a third, a hybrid, which we might at a pinch also define as non-democratic democracies. Russia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Egypt, Turkey, the former Ukraine, Georgia, are concrete examples. What do these regimes have in common? They have ‘elected’ leaders. That’s the democratic part. Virtually every other aspect of their governance structure looks a lot like authoritarianism run rampant.

Let’s itemize the list of common attributes: media owned by the leader’s cronies; economy dominated by same; opposition politicians constantly harassed, prosecuted, or in danger of prosecution; state and religion hand in glove; judiciary pressured to comply with government’s diktat; independence of educational institutions relentlessly subverted; corruption ubiquitous in state institutions; free markets victimized by political expediency; foreign NGO’s scapegoated. And oh yes – almost invariably the country’s woes get blamed on sinister outside conspirators, usually the US. You get the picture.


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