benevolent autocracy vs bad democracy? I found this article to be rather interesting
It's about Putin's Russia and the state of afffairs there.
To make a long and complicated story short and reasonably simple.
In 1990 the Communist government basically collapsed. Boris Yeltsin was elected as russias first ever democratically elected president in June 1991.
In October 1991 Yeltsin launched Yuri Gaidar's "shock Therapy" program.
Within weeks russia took down almost all of it's trade barriers, totally removed soviet era price controls auctioned off almost all the government owned businesses and floated their currency
The idea was that forcing the capitalist economy would cause pain, but that the economy would be up and running and would cause less problems than drawing out the old communist system for a decade.
the result, putting it mildly, chaos. The Ruble went through Hyperinflation
, the Russian Central bank took out massive loans to support the new programs and was later forced to default on them. Unemployment skyrocketed, there were broad shortages of goods because supply was far short of demand, and those who could exploit the new system became fantastically wealthy.
The "oligarchs" became the new owners of many of the large state industries, Oil, Media and transportation companies and became nearly instant billionaires.
Average monthly income fell from $70 to near the $30's, life expectancy dropped to near that of some african countries
In 1996 Yeltsin came up for re-election, it looked like he was in trouble. The communist party was resurgent and their candidate was polling several points ahead.
Then about 5 months before the election, Yeltsin made a deal with 6 of the leading oligarchs in Russia, they bankrolled his campaign with over $500 million dollars and used their resources to give Yeltsin almost exclusive access to the media. all of a sudden The communist party candidate could barely get his name in the news.
Yeltsin won with 53% of the vote.
There was another severe financial crisis in 1998, when the central bank manager jacked interest rates sky high to attempt to stop inflation.
In 2000 Yeltsin resigned some six months before the Presidential election and made Vladimir Putin the acting president. Putin was elected president as the incumbent in 2000.
Since Putin's rise to the presidency, the Russian economy has been booming, growing at nearly 6% per year, and the standard of living in Russia has increased dramatically.
But at the same time many are concerned.
Putin has abolished the election of provincial governors, instead making them appointed. He has consolidated all his support in the "united russia party" which controls nearly all aspects of the government.
he challenged some of the Oligarchs when they began to speak against him, and most notably Berzovsky, and basically reclaimed his media empire back under state control. Now the news is largely state run, although there is ample private entertainment television.
Most interestingly, the russian people are divided, a great many support putin as a strong leader in a russian tradition of strong leaders as long as he's successful.
But for his homemaker wife, Ms. Vallik, those years have yielded a rise in living standards that has enabled her to widen the scope of her passion - taking in homeless pets. "Any regime is OK for me," she says.
But the increased cash flow for millions has brought an unprecedented flood of consumer choices into Russian households, including travel, home appliances, and entertainment options. This may partly explain Putin's public approval rating, which recently soared to a celestial 87 percent. Putin's tough consolidation of Kremlin power also brought an impression of national unity and purpose, which was welcomed by many after the seemingly rudderless 1990s. "Russia has a predictable, active leader whose policies are consistent," says Valery Fyodorov, head of the state-run VTsIOM public opinion agency. "Stability is very important, because it means people can make plans."
But at the same time others are concerned
"We are eating our future, and we are being too quiet about it," complains Mr. Butovsky, a successful private farm manager increasingly concerned by the autocratic political system built since President Vladimir Putin was elected in 2000.
But for activists in Russia's beleaguered civil society, the growing sense of being shut out of the political process is the central concern. "There was a time when society could influence the state in the sphere of human rights, but now it cannot," says Oleg Orlov, chairman of the Moscow Memorial Center, a coalition of human rights groups. "Pressures on nongovernmental groups are growing."
The question I'm posing for discussion is this,
Which is better.
A democracy that is weak and unable to govern effectively and as a result causes economic and political chaos
A barely democratic or essentially non-democratic government that brings economic stability and a large growth of the private sector, at the expense of cracking down on political dissent to the regime?