I have often defended
Despite popular beliefs, Putin and his administration are hardly responsible for the poor portrayal of
“It is quite common in advanced democratic societies for elections to produce results that oblige political opponents to govern in partnership.
today is governed by a “grand coalition” of left and right. Germany has experienced periods of “cohabitation”. The American constitution seems to invite it, with the White House and Congress occupied by different political parties more often than not. France
In spite of this, these societies remain stable, prosperous and well-governed. In each case the political elites understand that there is something more important at stake than the pursuit of political power. Respecting the wishes of their voters, they seek to share power in the national interest.
Of course, ideas and policies are contested and debated, often in very robust terms. But all sides observe limits in order to prevent political competition from damaging the fabric of democratic life. When that becomes a risk, they choose compromise instead of confrontation. Above all, they respect their own constitutions and maintain the checks and balances essential to prevent monopolistic abuses of power.”
It would seem true, the range of disagreements between the Democrats and the Republicans on issues such as
So why can’t the former Soviet republics, despite healthy economies, educated masses, close links with the West maintain a democratic floor for debates which would not spill out into open hostilities and would need to be resolved by street protests, and multi-country interventions?
The first reason which has struck Russian society, and will soon strike the Ukrainian, is the fear of instability that has been instilled in people. It is an unfortunate fact that every generation of Russians/ex-Soviet citizens has seen periods of extreme instability and collapse that have little resemblance to periods of instability as they are perceived and experienced in the West. Such periods, where more than half of the population, in a matter of months, dips below the poverty line, food disappears from stores, life-time savings are devalued, stick with a country’s citizens for a long time. Often, such collapses happen after the majority of the population with high hopes for the future votes for what seems to be a progressively democratic candidate, who would later be entangled in massive corruption tales at the expense of the electorate. The fact that people still have their political freedoms, social rights, and economic liberties but have no resources whatsoever to take advantage of them is of little recourse. Such unfortunate events lead society to pursue candidates that would bring stability, security, and a revamped national spirit, and society would be willing to give a lot of rights back to get the resources to maintain a decent living standard. But most importantly this feeds in political apathy as a consequence of complete distrust in the political system. An even more frightening consequence can be ultra-nationalism, of which past history has seen enough of.
The second reason is the high degree of corruption instilled in the political elite, and the political class. The sudden appearance of private ownership requires several generations for society to get used to. An immediate entanglement of business interests with politics transforms the parties participating in the political process from groups following certain ideas of a country’s strategy and posing as “lobbyists” for their electorate, to groups of people posing as a “political party” lobbying business interests, and transforming all political disputes into corporate disputes. In essence this turns out to be the type of capitalism that Soviet propaganda once showed to its people as the evil “capitalist regimes of the West”, that never really existed in the West.
The third reason is the absence of a civil society in the ex-Soviet states, and its accompanying institutions. The ex-Soviet republics have often adopted a form of ultra-capitalism, functionally resembling the operation of corporate “democracy”; the shareholders have rights, but have limited ways in which they can use them. It is common sense to say that ensuring elections on a governmental, regional and a municipal level is not enough to get full-scale political participation from society. The only other alternative the population has is mass protests. In essence, minor issues which usually due to their abundance represent the majority of issues and law-making activity in Western democracies arise in the electorate. When the electorate has no chance to push for minor issues to be considered in parliament, but has the ability to express opinion on populist measures, policies that affect a majority of the country, the interests of the electorate and the government are misaligned. These minor issues most often resemble feedback on large-scale projects launched by the governments. Without proper feedback, implementation of such projects or new government policies resembles the game of a “broken telephone”, whereby someone’s intent is interpreted in an exactly opposite way by the time it gets to the fourth, fifth and sixth person in line of communication.
The three reasons are by no means being hidden away by the respective governments of ex-Soviet republics. In
Stability, which in
On a very rough basis this is what is happening in Russia, and maybe such a situation if it carries on for the next ten years is advantageous, as it can solidify the mechanisms of the economy, reform the socialist pillars which can no longer effectively support the well-being of the pensioners, middle-class and the lower-class.
The Ukrainian scenario is a dangerous example for