Friday, March 16, 2007

The Stage Manager

"Managed democracy" is the new term of art for the assortment of election rigging, censorship, and political gamesmanship that typifies the putatively free elections of many developing countries. Variations on this occur throughout Africa and the Middle East (see 2006's Egyptian elections), but the it's perhaps most endemic in the former Soviet Union. And no one practices it as skilfully, or with as light a touch as Vladimir Putin.

The Economist has a nice gloss of the current electoral situation in Russia, covering some recent regional elections, and the run up to next year's parliamentary and presidential elections. Putin has rather elegantly stage managed the creation of an entirely fictitious two party state, complete with regional elections, and an apparent peace in Chechnya (however much it maybe sustain by state terror).

True to his constitutional role, he'll aparently step down next year on account of term limits, but he hardly has much to worry about. He gets to anoint a successor (or perhaps to rivals for the role, both loyal to him), and then quietly settle into life as head of Gazprom, the Russian state oil and gas conglomerate. Given the income this will afford him, the reduction in international attention to him personally, and a continued hand in policy at the Kremlin, it's hard to see what not for him to like.

Note: little bit of site news, I've cleaned out the (very) stale set of del.icio.us links in the right hand sidebar under the 'interest' expandable menu. New, and fresh, links should follow shortly.
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