Putin’s sudden announcement this week of constitutional changes that could allow him to extend control way beyond the end of his term in 2024 echoes Xi’s move in 2018 to eliminate constitutional term limits on the head of state. That could give them many more years at the helm of two major powers that are frequently at odds with Washington and the West over issues ranging from economic espionage and foreign policy to democracy and human rights. Both moves reflect their forceful personalities and determination to restore their countries to their former glory after years of perceived humiliation by the West. They also mesh with a trend of strong-man rulers taking power from Hungary and Brazil to the Philippines.
Putin and Xi reflect the tendency of authoritarian leaders to hang onto power for as long as possible and to “die with their boots on,” said David Zweig, professor emeritus of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
“Very few authoritarian leaders give up power, always convinced that only they can save the country, which also justifies and makes their hunger for power morally correct,” he added.
Brian Taylor, a political science professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the author of “The Code of Putinism,” said Putin’s motive was to secure himself a powerful role post-2024 and constrain the powers of his successor, the Post adds.
Putin will have an opportunity to adjust plans for the succession depending on how events play out over the months and years to come, argue Jeffrey Mankoff and Cyrus Newlin of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Without naming a successor and with the effects of the planned constitutional changes still to be seen, there is much uncertainty between now and 2024. At the same time, Putin is gambling that he can manage the powerful forces of change.
The current contest between democracy and its rivals might turn out to resemble that of the last two decades of the Cold War, which the late Pierre Hassner characterized as “competitive decadence”—that is, a race in which each side’s chief concern is to outlast the other by more adeptly managing its own internal tensions and weaknesses, outgoing co-editor Marc Plattner writes for The Journal of Democracy.
“Political competition between different systems of governance in the world is nothing new,” said the European Union’s ambassador to China, Nicolas Chapui. “I feel that we need to feel confident on our principles, our values, our governance system,” he told AP. RTWT