“History proves that all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of government are transient. Only democratic systems are not transient. Whatever the shortcomings, mankind has not devised anything superior,” Vladimir Putin once said this.
With such a view of authoritarianism, there would be assumption that the entire world is on its way to seek such democracy if it is such a clear, correct choice. However, nothing is ever so simple, and this is not the case.
In this essay I will take a look at how authoritarianism fails, as well as why it is able to prevail is some areas.
Authoritarian forms of government do sometimes fail. The reasons for such failure include the public’s dissatisfaction with the current governmental regime, the emergence of relevant opposition, political negotiation with elites, the physical location as well as history of freedom in a given nation, and the deserting of the authoritarian leader.
While there are legitimate reasons for nondemocratic regime failure and there have been great moves toward a more democratic world, there are also reasons authoritarianism is able to sustain and survive in some cases. The fairly recent back-slipping from democratic rule to nondemocratic rule, or authoritarianism, is contingent on many factors. Factors ranging from a state’s mineral wealth, to its history of repression, to the fact many new democracies are small and weak allow nondemocratic regimes to sustain and prevail in certain states.
One of the first steps in the failure of authoritarianism is public dissatisfaction. There must be people within the state that are not content with the way the nondemocratic regime is governing. This sort of disapproval sets in motion a movement toward the breakdown of the regime.
Gorbachev implemented glasnost as a way to encourage public debate in the hopes of revealing the shortcomings of the current political system, as stated in chapter six of the “Essentials of Comparative Politics” text. After revealing such shortcomings, the goal of glasnost is to foster change and legitimacy in the current regime. However, Gorbachev’s plan backfired. Citizens of the Soviet Union began to question the very political system in place and ethnic groups began seeking greater freedom from Russian domination.
Glasnost is the perfect example of how people began to unite in their governmental dissatisfaction. Once citizens were able to speak openly about their opposition they realized many others felt the same way. And so, the realization of like-minded thinking allowed people to unite in their dissatisfaction. However, such dissatisfaction must be followed up with real, impactful action.
Along with mere public discontent for the authoritarian regime, must come an outlet for such thoughts. People only challenge an authoritarian regime when they believe they have the means and support to prevail in breaking that regime down. Without a strong, united, and capable opposition there is little...