NEWSWATCH: “Event Recap: Post-Soviet Political Theater” – NYU Jordan Center/ Ben Dalton

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

“In many post-Soviet countries, a hybrid regime has emerged that is neither full democracy nor pure authoritarianism. Sometimes called ‘competitive authoritarian regimes’ or ‘unconsolidated democracies,’ these governments adopt the trapping of democracies – elections, public debates, opposition parties – but in most cases electoral outcomes are preordained, and everyone knows where the real power lies. Perhaps the best example is the Russian Federation, which is holding an election later this month in which no one doubts that Vladimir Putin will coast to victory. Outsiders offer a few explanations for such uncompetitive, or theatrical, elections. In one narrative, elite operatives, or ‘political technologists,’ put on a performance of democracy that the inert masses passively absorb. But this analysis ignores the millions of everyday citizens who choose to participate in performances of democracy, as well as ‘the myriad direct and indirect forms of control and persuasion exercised by the state over aspects of people’s economic lives,’ said Jessica Pisano, Associate Professor of Politics at The New School for Social Research. …”

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Post-Soviet Political Theater