Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping’s consolidation of control will leave them personally responsible for their governments’ successes and missteps. The buck stops with them, according to Alina Polyakova and Torrey Taussig. In turn, Putin and Xi will likely respond to growing economic and political pressures by seeking more control at home while taking greater risks abroad, they write for Foreign Affairs:
Domestically, this will mean harsher measures to silence the voices of the opposition, to neuter political competition, and to restrict access to information. But repression is a costly way to ensure long-term compliance from a citizenry. Putin and Xi might find it easier to enhance legitimacy by depicting their regimes as “defenders of the people” against malevolent outsiders and thus might feel the need to pursue aggressive tactics abroad, even though these impulses will ultimately only deepen the cracks in each regime. Putin and Xi may look like the world’s most powerful strongmen, but the age-old axiom still applies: authoritarian regimes are stable, until they are not.