Problematic Democracy Nigeria and Russia in a Comparative Context Paper

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1. Ojo and Nickolay discuss the similarities and differences between Russian and Nigerian democracy—what are these?

2. Why do you suppose there are these similarities and differences? What does this analysis tell us about these two cases, and cases like them, with respect to democratic progress?

3. According to Sutton, what is the conceptual difference between a power-sharing regime and a personal autocracy?

4. As Sutton notes, Cambodia is a case where multiparty democracy started out weak and has now turned to almost complete authoritarianism. What happened? Do you find Sutton’s lens on the process of de-democratization useful?

5. Our cases for today represent the far side of hybrids, going over into authoritarianism over time in Russia and Cambodia. Given the variations we’ve seen in how democracy can falter or fail, are there solutions to reverse the trend?

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Problematic Democracy: Nigeria and Russia in a Comparative Context by Emmanuel Oladipo Ojo, Associate Professor, Department of History & International Studies, Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria 2018: Department of General History, Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk, Russia & Novoseltsev Nickolay Department of Russian History, Siberian Federal University Krasnoyarsk, Russia Abstract This article compares democracy in Nigeria and Russia. Although universal democracy is often associated with Western liberal values such as egalitarianism, secularism, equality and free markets, individual countries of the world has ‘domesticated’ democracy to ‘suit’ their values and local contents. Thus, this paper contends that while Nigeria and Russia manifest some outward paraphernalia of democracy such as constitutionalism and periodic elections; several core elements of democracy are missing in both. The paper concludes that while democracy is an antithesis in Nigeria; it is an oxymoron in Russia. Keywords: Nigeria, Russia, democracy, development, infrastructure, governance Introduction and Conceptual Discourse Structurally, this article is in three parts: an introduction and conceptual discourse, which attempts a brief discourse of democracy followed by the comparison of the brands of democracy practised by both countries, followed by a conclusion. 82 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 Russia and Nigeria had striking different experiences with regard to status, power, influence and size in the early stages of their histories, and while the former was an extensive empire and imperial power (1721-1917) that built the third largest empire in history with a population of 125.6 million in 1897; 1 the latter was a colony subjected to a ‘99 year lease’ to Britain 2 and was never an empire in the sense of Russia, though the Oyo and Benin Empires flourished luxuriantly within (and beyond) its borders. Democracy is relatively young in Nigeria and Russia – just about two and a half decades while both are not strangers to autocratic and repressive governments. Under its tsars, Russia was an absolute and autocratic state wherein democracy was foreign. 3 Also, when the Romanov dynasty was thrown off the throne following the 1917 Revolution, Russia transmuted from tsarist autocracy to communist totalitarianism particularly under Josef Stalin, described Kaul as “a man who respected no rules or ethics”. 4 As a United States’ classified document (released to the public in February 1994) pointed out, throughout Soviet history, political activities were illegal and impermissible and anyone who engaged in them took “a significant risk” as it almost always resulted in very “harsh treatment...including immediate arrest...loss of pay or jobs, longer prison term, forced labor or confinement in mental institutions”. 5 Ironically, the two Russian leaders who attempted some forms of liberalisation and freedom got consumed in the process: Tsar Alexander II was killed in the streets of St. Petersburg on 13 March 1881 by a bomb thrown by a member of the radical People’s Will 6 on the very day he signed a proclamation (the so-called Loris-Melikov constitution) that would have created two legislative commissions made up of indirectly elected representatives while Gorbachev’s ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ consumed his presidency and the Soviet Union. The tragic fate of these two reformers is the thesis of Lipman’s study. 7 Ulyanov Aleksandr, Vladimir Lenin’s elder brother, was one of the six executed for the assassination of Tsar Alexander. Although, he was not one of those designated to throw the bomb at the Tsar, he manufactured the nitroglycerine used in making it. Ulyanov who carried out his own defence and refused to ask for imperial clemency said tsarist autocracy was responsible for their action. In his final address to the court, he said Among the Russian people there will always be found many people who are so devoted to their ideas and who feel so bitterly the unhappiness of their country that it will not be a sacrifice for them to offer their purpose was to aid in the liberation of the unhappy Russian people. Under a system which permits no freedom of expression and crushes every attempt to work for their welfare and enlightenment by legal means, the only instrument that remains is terror. We cannot fight this regime in open battle, because it is too firmly entrenched and commands enormous powers of repression. Therefore, any individual sensitive to injustice must resort to terror. Terror is our answer to the violence of the state. It is the only way to force a despotic regime to grant political freedom to the people... there is no death more honourable than death for the common good 8 83 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 The Russia Federation attained its current democratic status only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991. On the other hand, of its approximately six decades of statehood, Nigeria has had democratically elected governments for about two and a half decades while military dictatorship account for the remainder, climaxing with General Sanni Abacha’s reign of terror, which, to a limited extent, qualifies as Nigeria’s equivalent of Stalin’s reign of terror. However, following Abacha’s death in 1998, and the General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s stint, the democratic process was restored in May 1999. 9 Democracy is an omnibus concept that has been subjected to all shades of meanings, cataloguing, interpretations and application. Today, there is probably no concept that is subjected to antagonistic interpretations and contradictory practises as the concept of democracy. One reason for this pervasive contradiction is that democracy is the least objectionable form of government. Consequently, from the extreme left to the extreme right, states always lay bogus and questionable claim to democracy. Indeed, even military regimes, with records of pervasive violations of human rights and other anti democratic tendencies, sometimes lay claim to democracy. 10 This is what Ekeh refers to as democratism, which, according to him, is the brand of rule that makes use of ‘false principles of the institutions of democracy’ while at the same time creating anti-democratic conditions. 11 This obviously informed Crick’s description of democracy as the most promiscuous word in the world of public affairs 12 or what Tocqueville calls ‘democratic despotism’. 13 Indeed, democracy is in the catalogue of Gallie’s ‘essentially contested concepts’. 14 Any meaningful attempt at understanding democracy must proceed from its ancient definition as peoples’ rule. The Greek words demos and kratia mean ‘people’ and ‘rule’ or ‘authority’ respectively. Thus, democracy refers to ‘rule by the people’. This began in the first half of the 5th century B.C. among the Greeks, thus beginning with what Dahl calls the transformation from rule by few to rule by many. 15 During the French Revolution (1789-1799), the French lawyer and political leader, Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794), defined democracy as a “state in which the people, as sovereign, guided by laws of its own making, does for itself all that it can do well”. 16 Abraham Lincoln authored what has since become the most famous definition of democracy. In an Address delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on 19 November 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Lincoln asserted that ‘all men are created equal’ and defined people-centred as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. 17 The most important attraction of this definition is that it stresses the principle of equality (since all men are supposedly equal) and makes the people the subject and object of governance or what a scholar terms ‘the raison d’être of governance’. 18 Thus, going by Laski’s definition of equality as the absence of special privilege; 19 a democratic state is often said to be one wherein the citizens have equal access to justice, job, power, privilege, etc. Indeed, Gamble describes a democratic state as a ‘republic of equals’. 20 This is because democracy implies that there should be a substantial degree of equality among people both in the sense that all the adult members of a society ought to have, so far as is possible, equal influence on those decisions which affect their lives. 84 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 According to Robert Darl, in every democratic state, the citizens are ‘political equals’. 21 This is because, as Bottomore has pointed out, all human beings are remarkably alike in some fundamental respects – they have similar physical, emotional and intellectual needs. 22 In 1646, in an article entitled ‘An Arrow Against All Tyrants’, Richard Overton (a puritan) wrote “For by nature, all men are equal...even so we are to live everyone equally”. 23 Indeed, in virtually all his major works, Alexis de Tocqueville insisted that history (the story of humankind) is synonymous with equality. 24 However, as fascinating as the concept of equality is, there exists a wide gulf between its theory and practice, and indeed between the theory and practise of democracy itself. There is hardly anywhere in the world where democracy is a republic of equals, apparently because “through occupation or wealth, some citizens are more able than others to influence political decisions” 25 From the Greek City States to the emergence of modern state, the concept of egalitarianism had been consistently negated. In the often eulogised Greek City States, which Palma referred to as the ‘birthplace of democracy’, 26 every inhabitant supposedly had a direct say on issues which directly affected the state. It must be pointed out however that in practice, Greek democracy was an exclusive one because a large part of the adult population was denied full citizenship i.e. the right to participate in politics whether by attending the meetings of the Sovereign Assembly27 or by serving in public offices – for instance, women were denied the right of full citizenship so were longterm resident aliens (metics) and the enslaved. Indeed, the enslaved were no more than the property of their owners totally bereft of legal rights. 28 Thus, only the non-enslaved were allowed to vote yet by 430 BC, nearly half of the total population of Athens were enslaved. 29 Furthermore, Jean Jacque Rousseau (1712-1778), the Enlightenment French social and political theorist and one of the first thinkers to question absolutism in Europe, limited his notion of democracy to property owners while John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), the British philosophereconomist, opined that only the propertied class should be enfranchised. 30 Moreover, the emergence of modern state meant some loss of rights by individuals since the state possesses the coercive machinery to compel its members to carry out certain tasks. Thus, the reality is that in most modern states, while the citizens may be free to express their views, they are made to live under the conditions prescribed by their states (leaders). Although, while democracy is not synonymous with diktat; the above consideration may have informed the submission that democracy can never represent the rule of the majority, because, more often than not, the people merely accept the dictates of the minority – the leaders. 31 In sum, in every human society and organisation, there are bound to be inequalities in status, influence, contributions and rewards. Indeed, inequality is the bottom line of the Circulation of Elite Theory as postulated by its leading apostle, Vilfredo Pareto ((1848-1923)), the Italian sociologist and economist. By definition, elites are a group which influences power and redefines the norms of society. They have pre-eminence over other members of the society by various acts of deference. 32 The deference and influence of the elite on the other members of the society may have informed Pareto’s conclusion that “history is a graveyard of aristocracies”. 33 85 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 This calls to question the entire content and context of the egalitarianism vaunted by liberal democracy: more often than not, the concept of equality espoused by democracy is theoretical, hence, its dismissal by Letwin as the ‘leading fetish of our time’. 34 Even in a leading democracy like Britain, as Andrew Harding has pointed out, most people only engage in democracy when they vote in general elections every four to five years. While admitting that to an extent, voices are lost or misplaced, Andrew argued that “more often than not, they are simply not heard”. 35 In his penetrating study of American political system, Lees asserted that ‘elitist and inegalitarian traits have always existed in American society”. 36 Indeed, Patterson has pointed out that despite the lofty claim that all people are created equal, equality has never been ‘American birthright’. He cited the 1882 ban which made it impossible for the Chinese to immigrate into the United States as well as other sundry discriminations against the Chinese and other Asians which were not ended until 1965. He opined that these discriminations were premised on the assumption that the Chinese were an inferior people. 37 Also, the Rosa Parks incident of 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama is well known. 38 However, despite all the odds, it must be conceded, as Lees has rightly opined, politicians in the United States have always recognised the importance of the common person with a strong commitment to liberty. 39 From our analysis so far, it appears that while government may be for all, it cannot be by all. As Julius Nyerere once averred, in every form of government, as far as the masses are concerned, power is something wielded by others – even if on their behalf. 40 Nyerere’s view aligns with that of Anderson who defines politics simply as ‘making choices on behalf of other people’. 41 Today, government by all is neither possible nor practicable because, as Bealey has pointed out, with vast numbers of people in the modern nation state, direct participation in decision making by all is impossible. 42 Ironically, democracy flourishes when and where citizens enjoy basic freedoms, have a voice in how they are governed and understand the workings of their governmental system. If the principle of representative democracy is worthwhile and workable in other climes; its practise in Nigeria and Russia is faulty and fraudulent. In Nigeria, no one represents or protects the interests of others: individuals, whether in the cabinet or parliament, can hardly be described as representatives of the people. Indeed, as Suberu has pointed out, a fundamental feature of democracy in contemporary Nigeria is the deep and profound distrust of Nigerians for their elected representatives. 43 This is not surprising given the endless abortion and frustration of the aspirations and hopes of the people by successive Nigerian governments. On the other hand, for close to two decades, Russia has practiced monocracy – rule by an individual. This assertion will be substantiated as we move forward. 86 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 Nigerian and Russian Democracy: Some Convergences and Divergences Democracy is the least objectionable and questionable form of government because it presupposes that authority emanates from and resides with the people. Thus, enfranchised and eligible citizens of a democratic state possess the power of the ballot through which they participate in the sel(election) of their representatives. Indeed, this is about the only or commonest privilege majorities of citizens of democratic states all over the world enjoy in their quest to participate in governance. This means that competitive, free and fair elections are the sine qua non of democracy because they are a regular and a direct means of citizens’ ability to influence the choice and emergence of the occupiers of the structural frame. Unfortunately however, despite their enormous financial and personnel implications, 44 elections in Nigeria and Russia can hardly pass the most rudimentary credibility test. Nigerian elections can hardly be described as elections as they are characterised by all sorts of malpractises and fraud. It is indeed instructive to note that controversies arising from widespread electoral fraud and malpractises had assailed Nigerian democracy virtually all through its entire post-colonial political history. It would be recalled that the military intervened in the democratic process on 15 January 1966 following an acrimonious election in the defunct Western Region. Again, the military sacked the Aliyu Shagari-led civilian administration on 31 December 1983 following pervasive post-election violence in several parts of the country. Also, the military-civilian administration of General Ibrahim Babangida collapsed following the annulment of the 12 June 1993 presidential election presumably won by the late Moshood Abiola, a Muslim Yoruba. From the above, it is evident that Nigeria has a long history of failed electoral processes although since the commencement of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, five general elections had been successfully held. For all intents and purposes, Russian elections since year 2000 have been mere rehearsals and platitudes. There are excellent studies on the nature and pattern of elections in Russia, and a cursory glance at major newspapers and magazines around the world would confirm this assertion. For example, Treisman’s study, particularly the section titled ‘Manipulation and Fraud’ provides insight into the questionable and fraudulent nature of elections in Russia. 45 Indeed, many Russians dismissed the 2012 presidential election as “a disgrace [and] not an election”. 46 One major divergence between Nigerian and Russian democracy is regime change – while there have been regime change in the former; what exists in the latter is what Kathy and Will referred to as ‘power vertical’ 47 – exercise of power by a single person or what we prefer to call monocracy. Between 1999 and 2015, five general elections (which produced four presidents) were held in Nigeria. Indeed, the ruling All Progressive Congress defeated the People’s Democratic Party of the immediate former president leading to the emergence of Mohammadu Buhari as president. Thus, like in other climes, Nigerian elections may not be foolproof; they are held periodically with the holders of the structural frame emerging there from. 87 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 Conversely, since the emergence of Vladimir Putin on the Russian political scene, elections have not been more than ‘yes voice’ to validate tenure elongation or continuity. As Harding rightly pointed out, elections in Russia are mere rituals which mimic and ‘imitate democracy’, but lack crucial elements of democracy. 48 According to Harding, the 2012 presidential election was Vladimir Putin’s Brezhnev moment...when he ceased simply being an elected leader and segued towards a lifetime presidency. Having neatly sidestepped the rules by doing a stint as prime minister (no Russian leader can serve more than two consecutive presidential terms) Putin can now go on and on. Brezhnev did 18 years, Stalin 31...who would bet against Vladimir matching Leonid? 49 It would be recalled that after two four-year terms as president (2000-2008), term limitations prevented Putin from running again so he picked Dmitry Medvedev to replace him. Medvedev made Putin prime minister but Putin remained ‘the power behind the throne’. In December 2008, Putin secured amendments to the constitution: terms of office for the president and the Duma were extended to six and five years respectively. Putin has remained in office since thus creating what has been described as “the Putin forever model” 50 because, “most ordinary Russians consider any [election] outcome other than Mr Putin’s victory unthinkable”. 51 This has created “apathy among some Russians and a softening of enthusiasm for the ruling elite”. 52 Among others, this has led to low turnout at elections. For example, voters’ turnout in the 2016 parliamentary elections “was the lowest in Russia’s modern history” 53 with only 28 percent of eligible voters making an appearance at polling stations in Moscow. 54 Indeed, a Russian compared voting to “urinating in a blocked toilet”. 55 Thus, as Kathrin pointed out “18 years after Vladimir Putin first became president; attitudes towards election range from disinterest to cynicism...Kremlin’s consultants find it challenging to keep up even the semblance of a competitive race”. 56 This has earned Putin the title of ‘vozhd’ (maximum leader) in some quarters. There is no doubt that democracy has brought untold succour or what Ronald terms ‘political goods’ 57 to humanity particularly in the Western world. Conversely, democracy has brought more pain than gain to ordinary Nigerians. Apparently, as pointed out earlier, it is absolutely impossible for all citizens of a state to practically participate in governance. However, the governed expect the government to fulfil certain basic obligations ranging from provision of security, power supply, potable water, good road network, functional health facilities, and viable educational system to provision of employment opportunities and payment of wages: Nigerian democracy has failed in virtually all. 88 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 Indeed, it appears that the older Nigerian democracy grows; the more it fails in the discharge of its social contract and constitutional responsibilities: there is no semblance of security for the lives and properties of Nigerians; 58 power supply is almost exactly nil; 59 potable water is a rarity; 60 Nigerians die in large numbers in road fatalities owing to extremely bad roads; 61 health facilities are in shambles; the education sector suffers chronic under-funding and regular debilitating strikes; people lose rather than get jobs and wages occupy the lowest rung in the priorities’ list of occupiers of Nigeria’s democratic space. 62 In its editorial of 19 March 2014, the Punch observed that “this is not the Nigeria our founders envisaged. Things have changed and continue to change in a nasty sort of way. This is a failing nation – thanks in no small measure to successive governments and their prowling elites”. In the same vein, Umasomba has pointed out that “Nigerian leaders are inured to the pitiable condition of life in Nigeria characterised by an acute unemployment, gruesome killings of innocent citizens by Boko Haram Sect, kidnapping... fuel scarcity, epileptic power supply and sundry life threatening activities that have daily defined the people’s existence” 63 With unemployment rate of 18.8 percent, it is relatively easy for terror groups to swell their memberships by recruiting youth from Nigeria’s overcrowded unemployment market thereby fuelling insecurity. 64 On 11 January 2018, over 70 people were murdered by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State (on 1 and 2 January) were given mass burial. 65 This sparked nation-wide condemnation of the country’s porous security apparatus with the parliament warning that Nigeria was becoming red with blood of innocent citizens. 66 Yet, this is just one of scores of similar cases. Conversely, to varying degrees, virtually all the above are opposite in Russia: the insecurity and killings by terror groups and herdsmen that pervade Nigeria is absent in Russia; about 96.9 percent of Russia’s population has access to safe, clean water (the lowest in 25 years being 93.40 percent in 1990) 67 while the 1,088 TWh of electricity generated by Russia was the fourth largest in the world in 2017. 68 Conversely, the Spectator Index of the world’s worst electricity supply in 2017 ranked Nigeria the second worst nation in power supply in 2017. 69 In terms of road network and functional institutions, Russia is well ahead of Nigeria. Also, Russia’s literacy level of 99.7 percent almost doubles Nigeria’s 51 percent. 70 According to UNICEF estimates, 10.5 million school age children were out of school in Nigeria in 2015 71 while the UNESCO estimated that the country was home to 65 million illiterates in the same year. Furthermore, unemployment rate in Russia was 5.1 percent in November 2017 from 5.4 percent in the same month of the previous year. 72 It is indeed not surprising that Nigeria was ranked 152 in a 188country Human Development Index survey by the United Nations Development Programme in 2016 while Russia took the 49th position. According to the report, Nigeria belongs to the “low human development category...50.9 percent of the population [is] multidimensionally poor while an additional 18.4 percent live near multidimensional poverty”. 73 One consequence of the malaise of poverty in Nigeria is what the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency referred to as ‘severe acute malnutrition’. The Association estimated that 17,989 cases of severe malnutrition were reported in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria, in 2017 and that “50 percent of under-5 deaths recorded in the state was due to malnutrition”. 74 89 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 While the doctor-population ratio of Russia is one of the highest in the world (alongside Cuba, Belarus, Greece and Italy), that of Nigeria stands at 1 to 4,000, a situation the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria described as appalling and unacceptable. 75 Moreover, while both countries are leading oil producing nations, Nigerians derive little or no benefits from the country’s massive oil reserves. For example, apart from utilising oil revenues for the common good of its nationals, Russia has about 40 functional refineries and saturates both the domestic and international markets with refined petroleum products. 76 On the other hand, intractable corruption has not only ensured that Nigeria’s enormous oil revenues are siphoned; it has ensured that the country’s three refineries are in a state of permanent limbo. Thus, the country remains the only member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries that depends almost exclusively on importation of refined petroleum products, a situation the junior minster in the Petroleum Ministry referred to as a national ‘shame’. 77 Another striking divergence between Nigerian and Russian democracy is the ‘cost of democracy’. For all intents and purposes, Nigerian democracy is vampire democracy wherein the political elite suck the country dry through their lavish lifestyle and outlandish salaries and allowances. Nigeria’s democracy is probably the best in the world with respect to elaborate investment in the comfort of the holders of the structural frame rather than in national development and human and material resources. Members of the Nigerian Parliament are probably the highest paid in the world. Basically, the Federations of Nigeria and Russia operate the same bi-camera legislature although Russia operates a federal semi presidential system (with prime minister and deputy prime ministers). While there are 109 and 360 members in Nigeria’s Senate (upper chamber) and House of Representatives (lower chamber) respectively; Russia’s Federal Council (upper chamber) and State Duma (lower chamber) have 178 and 450 members respectively. 78 While a member of the upper chamber of the Nigerian parliament earns $80,555 per month translating into well over $8.4 million per annum; members of the Russian parliament earn less than $90,000 per annum79 whereas a member of Nigeria’s lower chamber of parliament earns more than $6 million per annum. 80 This implies that a Russian MP will have to work for between seven and nine years to earn what a Nigerian MP earns in one year. Yet, an overwhelming percentage of Nigerians live in horrendous poverty. Scholars have interrogated the nexus between the high cost of governance and Nigeria’s underdevelopment 81 suffice it to state here that while the ordinary Nigerian lives on less than $1 per day, the Nigerian Parliament remains the poster–child of waste. With national minimum wage at $50, no one deserves that much money while ordinary Nigerians are scavenging to make ends meet. And as the Daily Trust ruefully pointed out in its editorial of 18 June 2015 entitled “salaries, allowances for political office holders”, it would take a working government employee on the national minimum wage the whole of his life to earn a Senator’s monthly salary. In a similar vein, in a document by the Nigerian Labour Congress and a coalition of 40 civil rights groups in 2015, it was argued that the funds expended on the payment and allowances of 1,078 political office holders by the federal government [monthly] could pay the national minimum wage of 9,647,574 workers. 90 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 The document opined that the “foregoing raised issues of social justice in a country of about 170 million persons; whether it is right to dedicate this quantum of resources [3.87 per cent of the budget] to service this infinitesimal percentage [0.010 ] of the population”. Further, the document pointed out that “at a cost of $1m per new megawatt of electricity, 50 per cent of the sum dedicated to paying these benefits can add 432.5 megawatts of electricity every year and finance [the construction of] 17,300 brand new classrooms. 82 Indeed, annual budgetary allocation to Nigeria’s Parliament surpasses the annual budgets of 21 of Nigeria’s 36 states.83 This culture of waste is unfortunately replicated at the state and local government levels. Conclusion The beauty and attraction of democracy is its core contents and concepts of equality, egalitarianism, secularism and constitutionalism. Democracy, as presently practised in Nigeria and Russia, is at cross-purposes with some of these concepts: in the former, citizens enjoy some freedom with a relatively viable and free press but the delivery of ‘democratic goods’ to the citizens at all the three tiers of government is inconsequential and almost exactly nil. On the other hand, citizens of the latter have access to comparatively larger amounts of ‘democratic goods’ but with an elaborate touch of autocracy and press censorship. The present arrangement that ensures that a significant proportion of Nigeria’s resources is expended on the payment of the wages and allowances of the occupiers of the structural frame while an overwhelming percentage of Nigerians is without security, life-supporting wages, jobs and basic infrastructures and amenities is the very antithesis of democracy, national development and fair play. Nigeria’s democracy remains the harbinger of trouble in the Nigerian state as it has widened the gap between the rich and the poor, fuelled corruption, exacerbated ethnic unrest and provoked unprecedented agitations by ethnic militias, strangulated the economy and impoverished the masses. The most cursory glance at available literature on Russian politics and society clearly indicates that Russia’s brand of democracy is bereft of the key concepts and contents of liberal democracy. This has given rise to the description of ‘Russian democracy’ in several shades and colours. Norris calls it ‘electoral autocracy’; 84 Evans labels it compromised and incomplete democracy; 85 Hille terms it ‘Putin-style democracy’ 86; Lipman and McFaul (among others) call it ‘managed democracy’ 87 while Nikolay describes it as ‘a mixture of authoritarianism and managed democracy’. 88 Indeed, it is instructive to note that an overwhelming percentage of literature on Russian politics includes either ‘failure’ or ‘myth’ in their titles. 89 One major flaw of Russian ‘democracy’ is what The Guardian of 20 April 2007 called ‘lack of electoral choice’ (gubernatorial elections were abolished in 2004 giving the president the power to appoint governors) since “the ballot box does not have the power of dictating or influencing who comes to power”. 90 Indeed, Solomon Ginzburg dismissed Russian elections as “imitation of elections” just like “many other [Russian] institutions that are imitations of democratic institutions”. 91 91 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 Thus, as pointed out by the The Guardian of 4 December 2017, “a century after the revolution that dismantled Tsarist autocracy, Russia is still grappling with totalitarianism. The one-party tyranny of Soviet Union collapsed in 1917 but the promise of true democracy in Russia has failed to materialise”. Juxtaposed with the key contents and concepts of liberal democracy and viewed from any objective standpoint, Russia’s oxymoronic and autarkic democracy is soulless. From the analysis above, it should be fairly clear that while Nigeria’s democracy provides larger quantum of freedom and ballot box power with little or no dividends of democracy accruing to the citizens; Russia’s mouthed democracy delivers larger amounts of ‘political goods’ to a populace with little or no press freedom and ballot box power. And as pointed out by Sergei Gulyaev, a onetime opposition member of parliament who was prevented from seeking reelection for voting against Vladimir Putin’s decision to re-appoint a Saint Petersburg governor, “there is de jure democracy [in Russia]; but in reality it does not exist”. 92 Notes and References 1 See Rein Taagepera, “Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia”, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3, 1997, pp. 475-504 and Russian Heritage, “1897 Census of Imperial Russia” retrieved from on 5 December 2017. 2 Lagos was annexed on 6 August 1861 under the threat of force by Commander Beddingfield of HMS Prometheus who was accompanied by the Acting British Consul, William McCoskry. The Oba {king) of Lagos, Dosunmu (spelled ‘Docemo’ in British documents) resisted the cession for 11 days while facing the threat of violence on Lagos and its people, but capitulated and signed the Lagos Treaty of Cession. Lagos was subsequently declared a British Colony on 5 March 1862. See “British Aggressions in Africa: Annexation of Lagos”, The New York Times, 20 October 1861; Antony G. Hopkins, “Property Rights and Empire Building: Britain's Annexation of Lagos, 1861”, The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 40, Issue 4, 1980, pp. 777-798 and Preye Adekoya, “The Succession Dispute to the Throne of Lagos and the British Conquest and Occupation of Lagos” African Research Review, Vol. 10, No. 3, 2016, pp. 207-226. For full texts of the Treaties that ceded Lagos to Britain, see Robert S. Smith, The Lagos Consulate, 18511861, Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press,1979: Appendixes ‘A’, ‘B’ & ‘C’ respectively titled ‘Treaty between Great Britain and Lagos, 1 January, 1952’; ‘The Treaty of Epe, 28 September 1854’ and ‘The Treaty of Cession, 6 August 1861’, pp. 135-141. 92 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 3 Part of the autocracy of tsarism was the rather long titles of the Emperors. For example, Nicholas bore proud and sonorous titles: 'Nicholas II, by God's grace, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar of Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, Kazan, Astrakhan, Siberia, the Tauric Chersonese, Georgia, Lord of Pskov, Grand Duke of Smolensk, Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia, Prince of Esthonia, Livonia, Courland, and Semigallia, Samogitia, Bielostok, Karelia, Tver, Yougoria, Perm, Viatka. . . Lord and Grand Duke of Lower Novgorod, Chernigov, Riazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslav . . Lord and Sovereign of the lands of Iberia . . . and the Provinces of Armenia . . Sovereign of the Circassian and Mountaineer Princes... Lord of Turkestan, Heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein Oldenburg, etc. etc.' See Edmund Walsh, “The Fall of the Russian Empire: The End of the Monarchy”, The Atlantic, February 1928 Issue, p. 10. 4 T.N. Kaul, Stalin to Gorbachev and Beyond, New Delhi: Lancer International, 1991, p. xvi. 5 National Intelligence Council, “Dimensions of Civil Unrest in the Soviet Union”, CIA Historical Program, n.d., pp. iii–iv. 6 Six members of the People’s Will were subsequently sentenced to death by hanging: Vasily Generalov, Pokhomiy Andreyushkin, Vasily Osipanov, Petr Shevyrov and Ulyanov Aleksandr. 7 Kate V. Lipman, “Alexander II and Gorbachev: The Doomed Reformers of Russia”, UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 158, The University of Vermont, 2017. 8 Quoted from Helen Rappaport, Conspirator: Lenin in Exile. The Making of a Revolutionary, London: Windmill Books, 2010, pp. xxiv-xxv. 9 Nigeria has had fifteen federal administrations (civilian and military) since independence on 1 October, 1960. While Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the first and only Prime Minister (October 1960-January 1966); President Mohammadu Buhari is the sitting President. In-between them were Lt. Gen. Johnson Thomas Umurakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (16 Jan 1966 - 29 July 1966); Lt. Gen. Yakubu Gowon (1 Aug 1966 - 29 July 1975); Brigadier-General Murtala Ramat Muhammed (29 July 1975 - 13 Feb 1976); Brigadier-General Olusegun Obasanjo (14 Feb 1976 1 Oct 1979); Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari (civilian: 1 Oct 1979 - 31 Dec 1983); General Muhammadu Buhari (31 Dec 1983 - 27 Aug 1985); General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (27 Aug 1985 - 4 Jan 1993); Ernest Adekunle Oladeinde Shonekan (interim government: 26 Aug 1993 - 17 Nov 1993); General Sani Abacha (17 Nov 1993 - 8 June 1998); General Abdulsalam Abubakar (9 June 1998 - 29 May 1999); Olusegun Obasanjo (civilian: 29 May 1999 - May 29 2007.); Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (civilian: 29 May 1999-5 May 2010); Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (6 May 2010 - 29 May 2015). 93 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 10 Robert J. Mundt et. al. “Politics in Nigeria” in Gabriel A. Almond et. al. (eds.) Comparative Politics Today, New York: Longman, 2008, p. 706. 11 Peter K. Ekeh, “Democratism Versus Democracy” in Festus Eribo et. al. Window on Africa: Democratization and Media Exposure, North Carolina Center for International Programs Publication No. 1, 1993, p. 51. 12 Bernard Crick, In Defence of Politics, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1964, p. 56. 13 Alexis de Tocqueville, cited from Roger Scruton, A Dictionary of Political Thought, London: Pan Books Ltd., 1983, p. 117. 14 For a comprehensive list of Gallie’s ‘essentially contested concepts’, see Andrew Coax et. al., Power in Capitalist Societies: Theory, Explanations and Cases, Sussex: Wheatsheaf Books Ltd., 1885, p. 30. 15 Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, New York & London: Yale University Press, 1989, p. 1. 16 Andrew Gamble, An Introduction to Modern Social and Political Thought,London: Macmillan, 1981, p. 91. 17 Full text of Lincoln’s Address could be viewed at or Both sites were assessed on 9 January 2018. 18 Nkolika E. Obianyo “Democracy on Sale: The 2007 Nigerian Elections and the Future of the Democratic Movement in Africa” in Victor Oguejiofor (ed.) Nigeria’s Stumbling Democracy and Its Implications for Africa’s Democratic Movement, Westport: Praeger Security International, 2008, p. 38. 19 Harold J. Laski, A Grammar of Politics, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1982, p. 153. For a detailed examination of the origins, meanings, components and some of the factors that account for and promote inequality in the human society, see ibid, pp. 152-165 and Ernest Gellner Culture, Identity, and Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 91, 93-110. 20 Andrew Gamble, An Introduction to Modern Social and Political Thought, p. 88. 21 Robert A. Dahl, Participation and Opposition, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1971, p. 1. 94 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 22 T.B. Bottomore, Elites and Society, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1964, p. 129. 23 Quoted from A.P. Woodhouse, Puritanism and Liberty, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938, p. 69. 24 For a critique of Tocqueville’s major political thought, see Seymour Martin Lipset, Political Man, London: Heinemann, pp. 4-8. 25 Kenneth Janda et. al., The Challenge of Democracy, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999, p. 13. 26 Giuseppe Di Palma, To Craft Democracies, California: University of California Press, 1990, p. 14. 27 The whole body of free born males (citizens) formed the Assembly or Ecclesia, a town meeting which every Athenian who had reached the age of twenty was entitled to attend. The Assembly met regularly – about ten times in the year and in extra-ordinary sessions. See George H. Sabine & Thomas L. Thorson, A Theory of Political Thought, New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. PVT. Ltd., 1973, pp. 20-21. 28 Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, p. 22. 29 Winin Pereira, Inhuman Rights, The Other India Press, The Apex Press & Third World Press, p. 34. George H. Sabine & Thomas L. Thorson estimate that only a third of Athenians were slaves, p. 20. 30 Ibid. 31 Cited in A.A. Appadorai, The Substance of Politics, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 141. 32 B.W. Hodder, Africa Today – A Short Introduction to African Affairs, London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1978, p. 53. For a detailed examination of the roles of the elite in the political process, see Kenneth Newton, Second City Politics, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976, particularly chapter 8, pp. 165-193 and for the problems and privileges of elites, see P.C. Lloyd, “The Elite” in P.C. Lloyd et. al., The City of Ibadan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967, pp. 139-150. 33 Quoted from T.B. Bottomore, p. 48. For a fairly detailed examination of the origins and characteristics of inequality, see John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, New York & Toronto: The New American Library, 1958, particularly chapter VII, pp. 69-83. 95 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 34 William Letwin, Against Equality, London & Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1983, p. 1. 35 Andrew Harding, “Democratic Practise could be institutionalised in private and public spheres to help develop political debate and deliberation” retrieved from on 1 December 2017. 36 John D. Lees, The Political System of the United States, London: Faber & Faber, 1969, p. 79. 37 Thomas E. Patterson, We the People - A Concise Introduction to American Politics, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006, p. 15. It must be pointed out however that there is probably no other nation that had fully opened her doors to immigrants from round the world as the United States. For example, between 1820 and 2000, about 65.2 million immigrants settled in the United States. Ibid, p. 6. Indeed, Dara Lind refers to America as “a nation of immigrants”: Dara Lind, “37 maps that explain how America is a nation of immigrants” retrieved on 11 December 2017. 38 For a detailed analysis of the Rosa Parks incident and its consequences on American politics, see Fred R. Harris, America’s Democracy: The Ideal and the Reality, Qakland: Scott Foreman & Co., 1980, pp. 106-110. 39 John D. Lees, The Political System of the United States, p. 79. 40 Julius Nyerere, “Decentralisation” in Martin Minogue and Judith Molloy (eds.), African Aims and Attitudes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974, p. 97. 41 Charles W. Anderson, Statecraft: An Introduction to Political Choice and Judgement, New York: John Willey & Sons, 1977, p. 3. 42 Frank Bealey, Democracy in the Contemporary State, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, p. 36. Frank asserts that while direct participation by all in decision making may be possible at what he calls the ‘micro’ level (e.g. village); it is not practicable on the ‘macro’ level (e.g. state or national): ibid, p. 42 43 R.T. Suberu, “Constrains on the Process of Mobilization in Nigeria” in S.G. Tyoden (ed.) Democratic Mobilization in Nigeria, Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference of the National Association of Political Science, University of Ibadan, 26 June – 1 July 1988, p. 118. 96 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 44 For example, according to Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Federal Government spent the sum of ₦122.9 billion ($800 million) on the conduct of the 2011 general elections: Punch, 9 May 2013 while that of 2015 cost ₦1 trillion (about $505million): Emmanuel Aziken el. al. “2015 election cost ₦1 trillion – INEC”, Vanguard, 1 February 2012. About 17.7 billion RR (about $300 million) will be expended on the 2018 elections in Russia: Sergei Vadyashkin, “Russia to Shell out $300 on the 2018 Presidential Elections”, The Moscow Times, 19 December 2017. 45 Daniel Treisman, “Elections in Russia, 1991 – 2008”, Working paper WP7/2009/06, Higher School of Economics, Moscow: State University, 2009, particularly pp. 9-18. 46 Kathy Lally and Will Englund, “Putin wins election as Russian President; opponents claim widespread fraud”, The Washington Post, 4 March 2012. 47 Ibid. 48 Luke Harding, “Hundreds detained after Moscow anti-Putin protest”, theguardian, 5 March 2012. 49 Ibid. 50 Kathrin Hille, “Changing the rules: what comes after a Putin election victory?” Financial Times, 4 December 2017. 51 Ibid. 52 “Pro-Putin Party Wins Landslide Victory in Russian Election”, Fortune, 19 September 2016. 53 Weston Phippen, “Vladimir Putin’s Big Win”, The Daily Atlantic, 19 September 2016. 54 Shoun Walker, “Russia stays loyal to Kremlin in election with record turnout”, theguardian, 19 September 2016. 55 Ibid. 56 Kathrin Hille, “Changing the rules: what comes after a Putin election victory?” Financial Times, 4 December 2017. 97 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 57 Ronald Manzer, “The Essential Political Goods” in Paul W. Fox & Graham White (eds.) Politics in Canada, Toronto: McGraw-Hill & Ryerson Ltd., 1984, p. 3. 58 See Emmanuel O. Ojo, “Nigeria’s Democracy: The Trilemma of Herdsmenism, Terrorism and Vampirism”, Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 9, 2017, pp. 13-26. 59 While South Africa generates about 40,000 megawatts of electricity for a population of about 57 million and South Korea generates more than 83,000 megawatts for 51 million people; Nigeria currently generates a paltry average of 3,687 megawatts for a population more than three times that of either South Korea or South Africa: Sebastine Obasi & Chris Ochayi “Electricity generation averages 3,687mw in Q1’17—NBS”, Vanguard, 25 April 2017. 60 Nigeria is one of the three countries in the world - along with Afghanistan and Pakistan where polio is still endemic and where more than seventy million citizens have no access to safe drinking water. According to a 2014 general households survey by the National Bureau of Statistics, 10.4% of Nigerians had access to pipe borne water; 26.8% got water from bore hole (not necessarily owned by them); 33.3% obtained water from well; 24.4% from streams/ponds and 4.1% from water vendors. The Nation, 26 May 2014. See also H. T. Ishaku et. al. “Water Supply Dilemma in Nigerian Rural Communities: Looking towards the Sky for an Answer”, Journal of Water Resource and Protection, Vol. 3 No. 8, 2011, pp. 598-606. 61 While other factors such as poor driving culture, night trips, over-loading, dangerous driving, poor vehicle maintenance, expired vehicle tyres, etc could cause road fatalities; bad roads is a prominent factor. Indeed, the Federal Road Safety Corps pointed out that “bad roads are a major cause of road accidents” and cited the example of an inter-state road having 1,674 potholes: Andrew Ajijah, “FRSC laments bad state of Nigerian roads”, Premium Times, 23 February 2017. According to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, 1, 466 Nigerians died while 8,672 were injured in road accidents in the first quarter of 2017: “1, 466 Nigerians died in road accidents in 1st quarter- NBS”, Vanguard, 27 April 2017. In its Editorial of 10 March 2016, entitled “Disturbing road accidents statistics in Nigeria”, the Nigerian Pilot computed road fatalities in Nigeria thus: while 183,531 Nigerians sustained various degrees of injuries between 2009 and 2012, 30, 435 died; in 2013, while 40, 057 were injured, 6,450 died. According to the FRSC, 5,440 Nigerians died in road crashes in 2015 while 30,478 sustained injuries: Samuel Ogundipe and David Ndukwe, “Nigeria’s roads of death: 15 people killed daily”, Premium Times, 21 September 2016. See also “Nigeria increasingly losing bread winners to road accidents — FRSC”, Daily Post, 25 September 2017. 98 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 62 Nigeria’s acute unemployment problem is a consequence of paucity of industries and the neglect of agriculture. Since the discovery of crude oil, successive Nigerian governments had paid mere lip service to the development of agriculture and the diversification of the economy. Industries which would have provided jobs for millions of Nigerians have either folded up or relocated elsewhere. The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, estimated that in Lagos State alone, more than 9,000 businesses had either shut down or relocated to other countries due to harsh operation environment, particularly power related problems. According to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, 3.7 million and 4 million Nigerians lost their jobs in 2016 and 2017 respectively: Toyin Olasinde, “3.7 million Nigerians lost jobs in 2016, says NBS”, The Guardian, 10 March 2017 and Everest Amaefule et. al. “Four million Nigerians have lost their jobs this year –NBS”, Punch, 23 December 2017. 63 Chijioke Umasomba, “The Centenary Celebration: Another Elite Jamboree”, Nation, 4 March 2014. 64 “Nigeria’s unemployment rate rises from 14.2% to 18.8%”, Vanguard, 23 December 2017. 65 Anuoluwapo Adeseun, “Here Are Photos from the Mass Burial of Benue Victims of Fulani Herdsmen Attacks”, Nigerian Monitor, 11 January 2018. 66 Ameh C. Godwin , “Herdsmen killings: Nigerian now painted red with blood of innocent citizens – Reps”, Daily Post, 17 January 2018. 67 Index Mundi, “Improved water source (% of population with access) - Country Ranking” retrieved from on 11 December 2017. See also “WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation” 68 China was first with 6,015; followed by the US with 4, 327 while India was third with 1, 423. See Enerdata, “Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2017” retrieved from on 1 December 2017. 69 Of the 137 countries surveyed in the report, Yemen ranked as worst electricity supply nation in 2017, followed by Nigeria, Haiti, Lebanon and Malawi. Prince Okafor, “Nigeria ranks second worst electricity supply nation in 2017”, Vanguard, 16 January 2018. 99 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 70 See Index Mundi, “Russian Literacy” retrieved from retrieved on 12 December 2017; Megan Behrent, “Education, literacy, and the Russian Revolution”, International Socialist Review, No. 82, 2016 and Muhtar Bakare, “65 million Nigerians are illiterates – UNESCO”, Vanguard, 17 December 2015. 71 “10.5m children out of school in Nigeria — UNICEF”, Premium Times, 18 August 2015. 72 Trading Economics, “Russia Unemployment Rate 1993-2018” retrieved from on 11 November 2017. The country’s unemployment rate reached an all time high of 14.10 percent in February 1999 and a record low of 4.80 percent in August 2014 73 United Nations Development Programme, “Human Development Report 2016”, pp. 2&6. 74 Agency Report, “17, 000 cases of acute malnutrition recorded in Kaduna in 2017”, The Nation and “Kaduna records 17,000 cases of acute malnutrition in 2017”, Daily Post, 3 February 2018. 75 Joe Chukindi, “One to 4,000 doctor ratio unacceptable – MDCAN tells FG”, Daily Post, 21 January 2018 and “Doctor-People Ratio Improving, Shortage of Specialists Persists”, Financial Tribune, 7 February 2017 retrieved from on 10 December 2017. See also, Christopher Gerry and Igor Sheiman, “The Health Workforce of the Russian Federation In the Context of the International Trends”, Basic Research Program Working Papers Series: Public and Social Policy WB BRP 01/Psp/2016, pp. 1-24. 76 Statista, “Russia's oil refinery capacity from 1998 to 2016”, retrieved from on 15 December 2017. 77 Johnbobosco Agbakwuru, “Nigeria only oil producing country struggling with importation of refined products”, Vanguard, 28 June, 2017. 78 For a detailed examination of the structure of the Russian Federation, see United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “Russian Federation. Public Administration Country Profile”, 2004, pp. 1-18 and for an examination of the structure and powers of its parliament, see Igor V. Grankin, “The Special Powers of Russia’s Parliament” retrieved from on 13 December 2017. 100 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 79 See Daniele Mariani, “Political Pay Cheques: How much do our elected representatives earn?”, Swissinfo. Ch retrieved from on 11 November 2017 and Grigoriy Sisoe “Russian MPs support cut in own salaries as anti-crisis measure” RT Paper, 24 February 2015. 80 For the breakdown of Nigeria’s legislators’ wages, see Denrele Animasaun, “Nigeria lawmakers are the highest paid in the world”, Vanguard, 25 August 2013. See also MailOline, 9 August 2013. 81 See, among others, Abdulrahman Adamu & Zuwaira H. Rasheed, “High Cost of Governance and the Challenges of National Development in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic” Journal of Good Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa, Vol. 3, No 1, 2016, pp. 46-57; Francis O. Iyoha et. al. “Cost of Governance in Nigeria: In Whose Interest?”, International Journal of Social, Education, Economics and Management Engineering, Vol. 9 No. 1, 2015, pp. 245-252 and Stephen Ejuvbekpokpo, “Cost of Governance on Economic Development in Nigeria”, Global Journal of Management and Business Research, Vol. 12, Issue 13, 2012, pp. 19-23. 82 Ibeh Anthony, “N1.126trn is spent yearly on salaries, allowances of 17,774 political office holders –Report”, The Herald, 21 December 2015. 83 Quartz Africa, 4 June 2015. 84 Pippa Norris, Driving Democracy, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 2. 85 Alfred B. Evans, “The failure of democratization in Russia: A Comparative Perspective”, Journal of Eurasian Studies, Vol. 2, 2011, p. 48. 86 Kathrin Hille, “Russia’s elections show Putin-Style democracy in action”, Financial Times, 11 September 2015. 87 Masha Lipman and Michael McFaul, “Managed democracy in Russia”, International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 6 issue 3, 2001, pp. 116-127. 88 Nikolay Petrov, “The Essence of Putin's Managed Democracy”. Paper presented at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 18 October, 2005, p. 6. 101 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 89 Some of these are Graeme Gill, “The Failure of democracy in Russia”, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2002, pp. 169-197; Nicole M. Hicks, “Failure of the Russian democratic reforms: The democratization of the big bear”, Graduate Theses and Dissertation, University of South Florida, 2003; Andrei Kolesnikov, “The road from 1996: Russia’s Failure of Democracy”, Carnegie Moscow Centre, 2016; Alfred B. Evans, “The failure of democratization in Russia: A Comparative Perspective”, Journal of Eurasian Studies, Vol. 2, 2011, pp. 40-51; “Russia: The failure of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism”, The Guardian, 4 December 2017; Andrei P. Tsygankov, The Strong State in Russia: Development and Crisis, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014; Logan Ma, “The Putin Regime: Democratic Failure in Russia?” Prospect Journal of International Affairs, 26 April 2013 and Alexander Wöll and Harald Wydra (eds,), Democracy and Myth in Russia and Eastern Europe, London & New York: Rutledge, 2008. 90 Andrei Kolesnikov, “The road from 1996: Russia’s Failure of Democracy”, p. 6. 91 Quoted from Kathrin Hille, “Russia’s elections show Putin-Style democracy in action”, Financial Times, 11 September 2015. 92 Quoted from The Guardian, 20 April 2007. 102 Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.11, no.5, April 2018 Reproduced with permission of copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Contemporary Southeast Asia 40, No. 2 (2018), pp. 173–95 © 2018 ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute DOI: 10.1355/cs40-2a ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule and the Closure of Political Space in Cambodia JONATHAN SUTTON The crackdown on the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) that began in 2017 marks the abandonment of even the veneer of democracy in Cambodia. While previous work has identified China’s support for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the electoral threat posed by the CNRP’s popularity as major factors explaining the turn towards a more assertive authoritarianism, this article highlights the importance of changes within the CPP to understand the speed and extent of political closure in the country. It re-examines Hun Sen’s more than three decades of rule to argue that, contrary to existing interpretations, he succeeded in fully consolidating personal control of the regime only after the death of CPP President Chea Sim in 2015 and the consequent collapse of the long-standing factional divide in the party. This final removal of internal constraints on Hun Sen’s personal rule implies that a compromise solution to the crackdown is unlikely, and that political change through institutional channels in Cambodia is now becoming an increasingly remote possibility. Keywords: Cambodia, Hun Sen, authoritarianism, personalism. Jonathan Sutton is a PhD candidate at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, New Zealand. Postal address: National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, Aotearoa/New Zealand; email: jonathan.sutton@postgrad.otago. 173 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 173 11/7/18 12:18 pm 174 Jonathan Sutton Although democracy has always been more of a chimera than a reality in Cambodia, for many observers the dramatic escalation of repression in 2017 marked a turn away from even the illusion of democracy towards “outright dictatorship”.1 The crackdown, initiated shortly after the local commune elections in June, began with the closure of media and non-governmental organizations, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia radio stations, the US-backed National Democracy Institute and the English-language newspaper The Cambodia Daily, which had been highly critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. 2 Shortly afterwards, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha was arrested on trumped-up charges, without a warrant and in violation of his parliamentary immunity.3 The crackdown culminated in the formal dissolution of the CNRP on 16 November 2017, with the party’s national assembly seats and commune council positions redistributed — mostly to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) — and its senior officials banned from politics for five years.4 Mu Sochua, who had taken over as party leader following the arrest of Kem Sokha, was forced to flee the country along with a number of other senior party figures, while former leader Sam Rainsy has been threatened with treason charges and remains in exile in France.5 The CPP followed up with a campaign of intimidation and coerced defections against CNRP members at the grassroots level, with Hun Sen ordering officials to “break the legs” of the party.6 With civil society cowed by the crackdown and the remaining opposition parties not presenting a serious challenge to the CPP, Cambodia is currently undergoing a period of political closure that is unprecedented since the end of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) administration and the elections that were supposed to bring multiparty democracy to the country in 1993. In explaining these developments, existing analysis has emphasized two main factors. The first is the increasingly prominent role of China as an economic and diplomatic backer of the Hun Sen regime. 7 This support, together with declining pressure for democratization from Western governments, has given Hun Sen greater freedom to manoeuvre against domestic challenges to his position. The second is the emergence for the first time in years of an opposition party capable of challenging the CPP’s hold on power.8 Not only did the CNRP perform far better than the CPP had anticipated in the 2013 general election — securing 44.5 per cent 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 174 11/7/18 12:18 pm Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule in Cambodia 175 of the vote against the CPP’s 48.8 per cent — but the subsequent months-long protest campaign in Phnom Penh over the allegedly fraudulent result was the largest display of mass mobilization that Cambodia has seen since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. The CNRP’s strong performance in the 2017 local elections further signalled that the party continued to pose a serious threat to the CPP’s ability to convincingly win the 2018 general election. This article adds to this analysis by highlighting the importance of internal changes within the CPP in explaining the nature and extent of the crackdown. It argues that the death of Senate President Chea Sim in June 2015, while receiving little attention from the outside world,9 marked a major turning point in Cambodian politics, as his passing effectively removed the final limitations on Hun Sen’s personal power from within the regime. Following this, Cambodia has transitioned from what this article refers to as a power-sharing regime, in which Hun Sen faced internal constraints on his rule, to personal autocracy, where these constraints are effectively absent and he now is able to rule almost entirely at his own discretion.10 This transition has important consequences for how the political situation is likely to evolve. Past episodes of repression have typically been followed by negotiation and some form of compromise with political opponents, albeit always on terms favourable to Hun Sen and the CPP. Yet with Hun Sen no longer moderated by the need to balance competing interests inside or outside the regime, a compromise solution that would allow space to challenge his dominance is now highly unlikely. The article thus highlights the importance of changes in the balance of power within the CPP in understanding likely future trajectories for Cambodian politics. The article begins by setting out the conceptual framework, drawn from research on comparative authoritarianism, in which regimes can be divided into power-sharing or personal autocracy based on the relative balance of power between autocrats and their elite allies. It then examines power struggles within the CPP since Hun Sen first took power in 1985, highlighting the marked shift in the ruling coalition that has taken place since Chea Sim’s death and arguing that this represents a critical juncture in Cambodia’s recent political history, as it is the first time that Hun Sen has gained outright control over both the party and the state apparatus. It then discusses the implications of this shift in the context of the ongoing closure of political space in Cambodia. 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 175 11/7/18 12:18 pm 176 Jonathan Sutton Conceptual Framework: Power-sharing and Personal Autocracy In order to maintain their rule, authoritarian leaders rely on the support of a broad governing network, including the military and internal security forces, political parties, the state bureaucracy, business leaders, the media, academia and other areas of society.11 Within this network is the ruling coalition, the leader’s core group of supporters who together wield substantial political power.12 In Cambodia, this group consists primarily of upper levels of the CPP, most of whom defected from the Khmer Rouge in 1977 or gained their positions during the Vietnamese occupation of the country from 1979 to 1989. To obtain this support, leaders agree to share the benefits of holding power, such as influence over policy, profits from natural resource exploitation and opportunities for bribery and graft.13 As well as enabling access to resources and decision-making, leaders will also typically maintain functioning legislatures and governing councils, share key government posts among different factions of the political elite, and accept both formal and informal limits on their own decision-making authority. These institutional characteristics allow elites to monitor the leader’s commitment to continue sharing power and can assist them in coordinating to remove the leader if this commitment begins to look doubtful.14 In this article these forms of authoritarian government are referred to as power-sharing regimes. Although institutional features vary, their defining characteristic is that the ruler of the regime is not able to act entirely as they see fit in relation to the ruling coalition.15 Although they may be powerful in regard to those outside the regime, within the regime they must take the interests of other centres of power into account when making decisions, either because of institutional limits on their position or as a pragmatic response to the status quo distribution of power.16 These centres may include individual elites who have independent political or economic power as well as larger groupings, factions or autonomous institutions within the regime. In Cambodian politics, the most relevant competing centre of power constraining Hun Sen was the former faction centred on Chea Sim and associated with other influential figures such as Heng Samrin, Sar Kheng, and Say Chhum, although prior to his abdication in 2004 the monarchy under King Norodom Sihanouk played an important role as well. Although the vast majority of authoritarian regimes begin with power-sharing arrangements, these are not always stable, and can be 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 176 11/7/18 12:18 pm Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule in Cambodia 177 subverted by ambitious autocrats who wish to acquire more power for themselves or deter potential threats from powerful rivals within the regime.17 Autocrats can gain power at the expense of their elite allies by carrying out overt power grabs, such as eliminating term limits or purging rivals, or by more gradually building up their own support base while undermining those of others by filling core ministries with supporters, modifying internal rules, and diverting resources and authority away from rivals, tactics that Dan Slater labels “packing, rigging, and circumventing”.18 Attempting to personalize power is risky, often triggering coup attempts from within the military or ruling coalition.19 Indeed, the abortive coup attempt in Cambodia in 1994, discussed below, is alleged to have stemmed from dissatisfaction with Hun Sen’s increasing influence within the CPP.20 Yet, if successful, personalization may result in the elimination or undermining of rival elite coalitions, autonomous institutions, or constitutional or other institutional constraints that had limited the ruler’s authority, allowing the ruler to concentrate power over decision-making, coercion, and the distribution of resources in their own hands.21 In doing so leaders typically gain full personal control of drafting and passing legislation, establish parallel security and intelligence agencies that bypass regular security force hierarchies, gain complete authority over government appointments and carry out personnel rotations in the government and military.22 This article refers to these forms of government as personal autocracy; while only a minority of leaders ever achieve this level of power, those who do often remain in office until they die or are forced to retire by ill health.23 While institutional characteristics may vary across cases, the defining characteristic of personal autocracy is that autocracy leaders are not constrained in their decision-making by the need to take competing interests within the regime into account, or indeed any other kind of rules-based procedures or institutional limits.24 Intraelite ties and independent bases of power are weakened to the extent that the ruling coalition becomes largely atomized; that is while it still retains power and influence as a group, the overwhelming perception that any individual can be removed at the autocrat’s discretion makes it difficult for elites to collectively agree on an alternative to the status quo.25 This can be described as a “hub and spokes” system, where the autocrat is at the centre of all things and elites only retain their positions at his or her pleasure.26 In this context, autocrats are able to act largely as they see fit in relation to the ruling coalition. Prominent examples of leaders who created 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 177 11/7/18 12:18 pm 178 Jonathan Sutton personal autocracies include Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Indonesia’s Suharto, the Kim dynasty in North Korea, Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mobutu Sese Seko in the Congo, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, to name a few; all succeeded in completely dominating politics within their respective regimes at some point during their rule. While previous observers have highlighted the personal characteristics of Hun Sen’s rule,27 conceptualizing authoritarian regimes as consisting of two distinct types — those where elites can effectively constrain the autocrat, and those where they cannot — provides a new perspective on Cambodian politics. For example, while other common regime typologies can have difficulties identifying transitions from one form to another,28 the focus on whether a power grab has allowed the autocrat to fully supersede institutional or other internal limitations provides a clear demarcation line between the two regime types. It also highlights the need to go beyond surface perceptions of dominance to examine, as much as is possible, power dynamics behind the scenes. 29 Indeed, despite its significant efforts to project an image of unity, for most of its history the CPP has featured deep divisions, with little mutual trust at the elite level and no clear unifying ideology or principle.30 Hun Sen himself has been unpopular with many in the party for much of his career; a former government minister, when asked whether senior party members are loyal to Hun Sen, stated emphatically that they are not, but that they merely — to use a Khmer expression — “swallow the hard stone”, cooperating unhappily for the sake of their positions.31 Prior to 2015, this internal conflict fell primarily along factional lines within the CPP, with one faction centred on Hun Sen and the other on former Senate President Chea Sim and core supporters of his, including his brother-in-law and Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng. This divide has been one of the main limits on Hun Sen’s decision-making power and personal authority throughout his time in power. Indeed, there are few other figures or institutions within Cambodia that have ever been able to provide similar checks. The former king, Norodom Sihanouk, was independently powerful but lost all influence when he abdicated in 2004.32 His successor, King Norodom Sihamoni, is apolitical; indeed, his selection as heir may have been supported by the CPP for precisely this reason.33 The leadership of the Buddhist sangha, or monastic community, is dominated by the CPP, and does not overtly interfere in politics, 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 178 11/7/18 12:18 pm Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule in Cambodia 179 while other institutions of government such as the judiciary have virtually no independence from CPP control.34 Hence power-sharing in Cambodia has primarily been a pragmatic response to the conflictual factional division within the CPP, which has placed limits on Hun Sen’s ability to act without facing internal constraints. The following section describes the origins of this divide and explains how the balance of power has evolved over time. It examines several episodes that are commonly cited as power-grabs by Hun Sen, concluding that they did not result in the complete breakdown of power-sharing. It then contrasts Hun Sen’s decision-making ability before and after the death of Chea Sim — and the consequent collapse of his faction — in mid-2015, showing that this point is a critical juncture in Cambodia’s recent political history, one which marks the final collapse of power-sharing into full personal autocracy. Cambodia’s Contested Balance of Power The factional divide in the CPP originated in the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) period, when Cambodia was occupied by Vietnam following the ousting of the Khmer Rouge government in 1978. Khmer Rouge cadres who had defected to Vietnam in 1977, and who formed a major part of the new government, took advantage of the situation to construct extensive patron-client networks in areas under their control.35 Chea Sim was particularly adept at building and promoting his patronage network, and by 1981 had built a loyal force of “children and grandchildren”, as they were referred to, by appointing hundreds of former Khmer Rouge cadres to government positions.36 Concerned by this accumulation of independent power, the Vietnamese removed him from his post as interior minister and gave him the primarily ceremonial role of president of the national assembly; however, he retained substantial informal influence in the government.37 Hun Sen was likewise opportunistic in building a personal power base in the foreign ministry, which he headed from 1979 to 1984. Although he accepted the tutelage of his Vietnamese “teacher”, ambassador to Cambodia Ngo Dien, when it came to appointments, he maintained control over decisions and was able to fill the ministry with talented young people who were loyal to him personally.38 Initially, the Vietnamese leadership relied primarily on Cambodian communists who had been trained in Hanoi to maintain their influence over the new regime, seeing the Khmer Rouge defectors as 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 179 11/7/18 12:18 pm 180 Jonathan Sutton valuable but untrustworthy.39 From this group Pen Sovan was appointed to be the PRK’s first prime minister in 1981, with policy decisions dictated by Le Duc Tho, the leader of Vietnamese occupation forces in Cambodia.40 After six months, however, Pen Sovan was arrested and imprisoned in Hanoi. Although he himself attributed his fall to rivalry with Hun Sen and a dispute with Le Duc Tho over the number of Vietnamese troops stationed in Cambodia, Vietnamese sources have stated that Pen Sovan was removed for abusing his position for personal gain and harbouring too much ambition for dictatorial power.41 However, although independent political power had been unacceptable to the Vietnamese in the early stages of the PRK, by the time Pen Sovan’s successor Chan Sy died in 1984, the Vietnamese leadership was looking more actively for ways to disengage from Cambodia and had found the Hanoi-trained revolutionaries unable to build enough local support to retain power on their own. Despite their association with the Pol Pot regime, the Khmer Rouge defectors had the ability to maintain control without direct Vietnamese support, and so Hun Sen was appointed prime minister in 1985.42 From the mid-1980s onwards, the Khmer Rouge defectors increasingly dominated Cambodian politics, with the Hanoi-trained revolutionaries largely excluded from power. Within the CPP itself — known at the time as the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP) — the most influential figures could be associated with either Chea Sim (often grouped together with Heng Samrin) or Hun Sen.43 During Hun Sen’s early years of rule, however, factional conflict was limited, with struggles in the regime focusing more on ideology versus pragmatism in rebuilding the state.44 Internal Power Struggles Despite the initial lack of conflict, by the early 1990s the Hun Sen faction was becoming more prominent, and Hun Sen himself had grown in influence within the party.45 During the deadlock over the CPP’s refusal to accept its loss to the royalist National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC) party in the 1993 election which ended the UNTAC administration, for example, Chea Sim attempted to gain the position of second prime minister.46 In the final deal, however, the position went to Hun Sen. Aggrieved at Hun Sen’s increasing personal power, National Security Minister Sin Song, senior interior ministry official Sin Sen and Prince Norodom Chakrapong launched 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 180 11/7/18 12:18 pm Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule in Cambodia 181 a poorly-organized coup attempt on 2 July 1994, with the alleged support of senior members of the Chea Sim faction.47 The coup is reported to have been used as a pretext for Hun Sen to make what has been labelled “a crucial power grab”:48 aware of Chea Sim and Sar Kheng’s likely complicity in the coup plot, Hun Sen allegedly pressured them to accept the appointment of a close ally, Hok Lundy, as head of the national police in exchange for not pursuing the issue, thus supposedly gaining control over the most powerful coercive agency in the country at the time.49 This interpretation, however, somewhat oversimplifies the circumstances and consequences of Hok Lundy’s appointment. A former adviser to Hun Sen, for example, states that the appointment was in fact a consensus decision made with the backing of Chea Sim and Sar Kheng, who thought that they would be able to control Hok Lundy.50 In fact, while Hok Lundy indeed initially worked to undermine Sar Kheng’s control of the national police, he soon began to assert his independence and show signs of ambition for Hun Sen’s own position.51 He was also suspected of being involved in the drug trade and a number of high-profile killings, and was seen as a liability by other members of the CPP.52 Hun Sen attempted to constrain Hok Lundy by supporting a number of his rivals, but was largely unsuccessful in completely controlling him until his untimely death in 2008.53 Thus, although the appointment of Hok Lundy initially weakened Chea Sim and Sar Kheng vis-à-vis Hun Sen, subsequent events show that he was not an obedient loyalist but himself a competing centre of power within the regime, giving Hun Sen only contested control over the national police. Another apparent power grab took place in July 1997, when fighting broke out in Phnom Penh between Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit and FUNCINPEC forces. Widely denounced as a coup by Hun Sen, in reality it represented the result of months of mutual provocation between FUNCINPEC and the CPP.54 There was also a factional element to the conflict. In response to the 1994 coup attempt, as well as the build-up of FUNCINPEC military strength, Hun Sen had increased the size of his bodyguard unit to 1,500 troops equipped with heavy weaponry.55 When the possibility of military action against FUNCINPEC was raised, Chea Sim and his allies, including head of the armed forces General Ke Kim Yan, refused to support Hun Sen, who had been losing popularity in the CPP and was seen as unpalatable to voters.56. During the conflict itself they refused to mobilize security forces under their command in support, with Hun Sen relying instead on his bodyguard unit 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 181 11/7/18 12:18 pm 182 Jonathan Sutton and the forces of a few supporters who backed military action. After Hun Sen’s victory it was reported that the CPP members who had not cooperated sandbagged their houses and put their personal bodyguards on alert, allegedly in the expectation that they might be attacked next.57 The 1997 conflict is often portrayed as a major turning point in Hun Sen’s personalization of power, after which he was able to dominate the CPP and install powerful loyalists into prominent government positions.58 Yet subsequent intra-party negotiations — not often mentioned in later accounts — indicate that power-sharing survived the conflict, with Hun Sen still facing constraints on his authority and decision-making power. In October 1997 the CPP held its fifth party congress, with widespread speculation in the lead-up to the meeting that Hun Sen would build on his victory to strengthen his position against Chea Sim or challenge him for control of the party.59 However, while the CPP endorsed Hun Sen’s actions in July, his proposal to add several loyalists to the party’s standing committee was blocked due to objections by Chea Sim. He was also forced to withdraw proposed amendments to an electoral law, drafted by Sar Kheng, that would have strengthened his loyalistdominated council of ministers against Sar Kheng’s stronghold in the ministry of interior. Most significantly, the party congress agreed to return to “the classical way of managing the party”, meaning collective decision-making by the standing committee.60 The reassertion of collective decision-making and constraints exercised on moves by Hun Sen to strengthen his faction against Chea Sim hence show that the July 1997 conflict did not lead to a major breakdown of power-sharing in the CPP. A third commonly-cited power grab occurred in 2004 when Hun Sen forced Chea Sim out of the country in order to pass legislation favourable to his own position. Following the 2003 general election, an alliance between opposition parties FUNCINPEC and the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) — which had the overt or tacit support of King Norodom Sihanouk, the Chea Sim faction and civil society in Phnom Penh — posed a serious threat to Hun Sen’s position, demanding substantial concessions that would have amounted to a “political death warrant” if he had agreed.61 Following a lengthy deadlock, Hun Sen instead proposed a deal to create new government positions for FUNCINPEC if they split the alliance. The deal required a constitutional amendment, which needed the signature of Chea Sim as acting head of state while King Sihanouk was out of the country. However, on the day he was due to sign 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 182 11/7/18 12:18 pm Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule in Cambodia 183 the deal he was escorted to the airport by police and flown to Thailand, supposedly for medical treatment.62 It was also reported that the night before, members of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit had been posted outside Chea Sim’s residence.63 FUNCINPEC minister Nhek Bun Chhay, next in line as acting head of state, signed the amendment instead, before Chea Sim returned to Cambodia the following week. The event was a political humiliation for Chea Sim.64 As noted at the time, it was also a highly unusual public display of disharmony in the CPP, although several days later the CPP broadcast on state television an informal and apparently friendly meeting between Hun Sen, Chea Sim and other leading members of the party as a show of unity.65 Indeed, it stands out in retrospect as a remarkable rupture in the CPP’s facade of cohesion, with no comparable public conflicts occurring in the years since. That Hun Sen was willing to make such an overt display of party disunity suggests that the move was a last-resort response to the severe threat that Chea Sim’s support for the opposition posed to his political survival; from a more dominant position, it seems more plausible that he would have simply forced Chea Sim to sign, avoiding the public spectacle. The ensuing effect on the balance of power is not entirely clear. Notably, Sar Kheng retained his position in the new government, although Hun Sen’s “crony” Sok An was also promoted to the post of deputy prime minister.66 Furthermore, there are only conflicting reports about whether appointments to the party’s standing committee in January 2005 were dominated by Hun Sen or whether they reflected a balance of factional interests.67 Despite Hun Sen’s attempts to do so, Chea Sim was subsequently able to block him from promoting further core loyalists to the central committee over the next few years.68 Hence, while the episode was an unusual public display of disunity in the CPP, and may indeed have been a blow to the Chea Sim faction, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that it resulted in the power-sharing agreement comprehensively breaking down into personal autocracy by the mid-2000s. Similarly, other more recent attacks on Chea Sim supporters, such as the arrest and imprisonment of his head bodyguard in 2011, weakened his faction but did not fully eliminate its political influence.69 In addition to the relatively limited effect of episodes that have been characterized as power grabs by Hun Sen, there are also a number of areas where he continued to make concessions to other interests within the regime prior to 2015. Three examples stand out. 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 183 11/7/18 12:18 pm 184 Jonathan Sutton The first concerned military promotions. After the number of senior officers had rapidly expanded in the 2000s, Hun Sen temporarily called a halt to promotions around 2010.70 When in spite of this he tried to promote his son Hun Manet — who had only received his first command in 2008 — to the third-highest rank of lieutenant general, other high-ranking officials objected, accusing him of favouritism and demanding that their children be promoted as well. Hun Sen was reportedly unhappy about this, but complied, maintaining a factional balance in further promotions.71 Sar Kheng’s son, Sar Sokha, for example, was promoted at the same time as Hun Manet.72 Similarly, although Chea Sim’s ally Ke Kim Yan was removed as head of the armed forces in 2009, several weeks after the death of Hok Lundy, he was shortly afterwards appointed to the post of deputy prime minister; due to Ke Kim Yan’s widespread support in the military, this was possibly intended to avert the threat of internal conflict.73 A second area where Hun Sen faced constraints was in policymaking, where he operated under a consensus-based decision-making process among the three samdechs [lords], himself, Chea Sim and Heng Samrin: In the old days, before his [Chea Sim’s] death, there was a triumvirate […] Any big decisions must have the consensus of the three. Each can veto. The Soviet system, following Stalin.74 Such collective decision-making mechanisms are a common feature of power-sharing autocracies, although they may not be easily observable from the outside. Tools like vetoes allow members of the ruling coalition to block unfavourable legislative or administrative decisions while providing clear signals of the autocrat’s intention to further consolidate power if they are breached or ignored. In contrast, in personal autocracies vetoes over the autocrat’s decisions by definition do not exist. Thirdly, although Hun Sen had been the most publicly prominent figure in Cambodian politics since at least the early 1990s, he was not able to gain outright control of the CPP itself until 2015, with Chea Sim retaining the role of president until his death. As party president, Chea Sim resolved intra-party disputes that arose as a result of personal conflicts or turf wars over private interests, preventing them from erupting into regime destabilizing divisions and maintaining the appearance of unity.75 But he also acted as a check on Hun Sen by preventing his attempts to replace older party members with younger cadres and limiting his ability to introduce 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 184 11/7/18 12:18 pm Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule in Cambodia 185 reform policies that would impact their interests or otherwise allow Hun Sen to exercise discretionary control over the party.76 Indeed, there is little evidence to suggest that Hun Sen was able to achieve the kind of dominance over the CPP that would be expected of a personalist dictator prior to 2015. As noted above, he was prevented from stacking the party leadership with loyalists in 1997 and there is only conflicting evidence that he did so in 2005, with no further major changes happening until after 2015. Consolidation of Personal Autocracy Although Chea Sim had been in poor health for several years prior to his death in June 2015, his continued presence meant that his faction retained some influence and ability to constrain Hun Sen as late as the early 2010s. His passing, however, marked a major turning point for the balance of power in the regime. Without his presence, his faction has fallen apart, as no-one else has been able to muster the kind of personal support required to replace him.77 As a result, the former factional division in the CPP is now no longer a major factor in Cambodian politics, leaving Hun Sen as now the only meaningful centre of power in the regime.78 The Cambodian government has hence been a fully established personal autocracy since 2015. A symbolic example of Hun Sen’s increased dominance following this point can be seen in the CPP’s election campaigns. In the past, campaign posters had always featured images of Hun Sen, Chea Sim and Heng Samrin together. During the 2013 campaign, Hun Sen pushed to have these posters show only himself, or to have his portrait placed more prominently than the other two, but was prevented from doing so.79 During the 2017 commune election campaign, however, Heng Samrin’s portrait was notably absent from CPP posters, with Hun Sen’s image shown alone.80 Another symbolic example is the hagiographic documentary “Marching Towards National Salvation”, released by the CPP in early 2018, which chronicles Hun Sen’s defection from the Khmer Rouge and involvement in Vietnam’s 1979 invasion of Cambodia. 81 While Hun Sen is given the most prominence, influential defectors like Chea Sim and Heng Samrin are mentioned only in passing, and others who remain high-ranking members of the CPP, such as Men Sam On and Tea Banh, are not mentioned at all. 82 This rewriting of history is suggestive of initial attempts at building the kind of personality cult seen in other personal autocracies 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 185 11/7/18 12:18 pm 186 Jonathan Sutton such as North Korea or China under Mao, as it creates a narrative lionizing Hun Sen as the most important figure in the “rescue” of the Cambodian nation from the Khmer Rouge. Indeed, personality cults are endemic to personal autocracies, as they reinforce the leader’s paramount political standing and send a clear message to potential challengers in the ruling coalition — as well as broader society — that there is only one person who counts, and they are firmly in control.83 More concretely, after Chea Sim’s death Hun Sen immediately took over as president of the CPP, which gave him direct personal control over both government and party for the first time since 1985. It was noted at the time that gaining control of the party gave Hun Sen the leverage and freedom to ease out party veterans and introduce younger, “reform-minded” figures into key institutions;84 in other words, to eliminate entrenched power-holders and replace them with less independent, more easily controlled party members. Indeed, in March 2016, not long after Chea Sim’s passing, Hun Sen carried out a major reshuffle of the CPP cabinet, making changes to leadership and senior positions in a number of ministries. Observers have attributed the reshuffle to the CPP’s poor performance in the 2013 election, with some criticizing it as being “cosmetic” rather than reflective of genuine government reform because many figures were simply moved into different positions.85 However, such apparently superficial rotation of officials serves a distinct purpose in personal autocracies, as it prevents government ministers building up independent bases of loyalists in their ministries which could be used to mount a challenge, while simultaneously demonstrating the autocrat’s personal authority. Tellingly, the changes are alleged to have not gone through the normal CPP decision-making processes but were pushed by Hun Sen himself.86 Other recent moves similarly reflect the kinds of actions typically taken by leaders of personal autocracies. For example, Hun Sen has recently announced plans to establish a separate intelligence agency — with a training institute for its members run by his son, Hun Manith — that could be used not only to monitor potential opposition but also to spy on Cambodia’s military and security forces to detect or deter potential subversive factions forming.87 He has also announced his intention to take personal discretionary control of appointments to the executive branch, reducing its size (and consequent need for patronage) while also bypassing the national assembly, which currently needs to approve appointments.88 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 186 11/7/18 12:18 pm Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule in Cambodia 187 These and other ongoing changes reflect a far more overt consolidation of personal control than Hun Sen had been able to carry out prior to the collapse of the rival Chea Sim faction. Concluding Discussion: Implications of Personal Autocracy in Cambodia This article uses the conceptual framework of power-sharing and personal autocracy to offer a new analytical lens for understanding Hun Sen’s rule of Cambodia. Contrary to existing interpretations, it argues that he had not fully consolidated personal power until much later than has commonly been assumed, with a pragmatic power-sharing arrangement surviving, albeit tenuously, until the passing of Chea Sim in mid-2015. With the collapse of the factional divide, however, and with other centres of power outside the CPP long since rendered irrelevant, Hun Sen now no longer faces any constraints on his decision-making abilities. Cambodian politics has therefore entered a new phase, one in which Hun Sen is able to rule according to his personal whims to a far greater extent than at any previous point since the establishment of the current regime. The main implication of this transition is that the current crisis is unlikely to play out in the same way as previous episodes of political closure. In what had appeared to be an established pattern, periods of repression — often in the lead-up to an election — were followed by an easing of restrictions and periods of relative openness, with the CPP relying on a combination of targeted violence and the exploitation of divisions in the opposition to maintain control. This was at least in part driven by Hun Sen’s need to balance competing interests and preserve the relatively fragile balance of power; in 2003, for example, the possibility that the Chea Sim faction could have aligned itself with the FUNCINPECSRP alliance limited Hun Sen’s room for manoeuvre, creating a lengthy deadlock that had to be resolved by co-opting FUNCINPEC at the SRP’s expense. In contrast, while the regime has moved away from the overt violence of the 1990s and early 2000s, the sudden and largely unexpected elimination of the CNRP reflects the new political equilibrium in which Hun Sen faces no meaningful internal challenges to his authority and so can act quickly and decisively without fear of consequences for elite cohesion. Together with diplomatic support from China for a more assertive authoritarianism, and the relatively toothless response from Western governments and donors, the lack of moderating influences on Hun Sen from within 01 Jonathan-1P.indd 187 11/7/18 12:18 pm 188 Jonathan Sutton the regime thus implies that a compromise solution, one which would allow Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha or Mu Sochua to return to the political arena, is now far more unlikely. The establishment of personal autocracy is not without its risks. By marginalizing former centres of power within the regime, it can create grievances among sectors of the elite, who may then become willing to support an alternative to the status quo. There is some suggestion that this may have in fact played a role in prompting the crackdown. In the past Sam Rainsy has publicly claimed, for example, that he has a close working relationship with Sar Kheng.89 Following the dissolution of the CNRP, he also claimed that the crackdown was precipitated by signs of a possible future modus vivendi between the CNRP and an unnamed faction of the CPP that was dissatisfied with Hun Sen’s rule.90 Although information on this is currently lacking, an alliance between the remnants of the CNRP and former Chea Sim-aligned figures — such as that threatened in the 2003–04 deadlock — could plausibly pose a threat to Hun Sen’s continued dominance. Such an alternative ruling coalition could also potentially attract support from Vietnam, which, albeit a major supporter of the CPP, may be concerned about Hun Sen’s increasingly close relationship with China and the implications this has for Vietnam’s interests in the region.91 Yet, thus far there have been no outward signs of internal conflict within the CPP since Hun Sen’s consolidation of personal control. The establishment of personal autocracy can also affect the likelihood that an authoritarian regime survives mass protests. Terence Lee, for example, has argued that the autocrat’s personal interference in the ...
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Democratization and De-democratization
Question one
Both democracies are two decades old, Russia became democratic after the collapse of
Soviet Union in 1991 while Nigeria has six decades of statehood was characterized with four
decades of dictatorship which ended after the death of dictator Sunni Abacha in 1998, where
democracy was restored in1999. Since sine qua non of democracy is free, fair and competitive
elections, both Russian and Nigeria elections have been mere platitudes and rehearsals which are
characterized by massive electoral fraud and malpractices (Ojo & Nickolay, p.87)
On the other hand, in Nigerian, there has been regime change for the last five general
elections but in Russia exercise of power has been under a single person, Vladimir Putin, which
is commonly referred as monocracy (87). This shows that elections in Nigeria have some tenets
of democracy such as change of representatives while in Russia; elections have been about
validating continuity and elongation of Vladimir Putin power (89).
Nigerian and Russian democracies have huge divergences in terms of service provision to
its people, Nigeria has failed to discharge its constitutional responsibilities and social contract
like basic services but in Russia, this is not the case, the Russian population has access to all
basic goods and services. Also, Nigeria democracy is a “vampire democracy” where the ruling
elites have to suck the country dry with outlandish salaries and lavish salaries which is not the
case with the Russian democracy (90).
Question two
The analysis of democracy that is quality should entail wh...

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