Authoritarian Regimes Maintain Power

Authoritarian governments seem to rise and fall in power consistently throughout history. They can rise from many different reasons. Most political scientists believe modernization is required for democracy. Thus, the absence of modernization creates inequality in the nation. The elites in power fear losing political power because they believe they would also lose economic power. To ensure they do not lose power, those in power monitor the civil society and often forbid any civil groups without a government sanction. Internationally, imperial powers draw poor borders for new states that create divisions within the society due to ethnicity or religious beliefs. This division hurts the country and causes difficult conditions to come to a consensus. Authoritarian rule is an easy way for one group to rule over a state.

It is not difficult to maintain authoritarian rule. A leader may take different measures to ensure the continuance of his or her rule. Causing people to become fearful of the government is one way a leader controls the citizens. If a citizen opposes the government in any way, they may be arrested or killed. Therefore, protesting is not an option for citizens. This means is called coercion. Also, a leader may keep the citizens under surveillance to make sure he or she is not against opposition. However, the most effective way for an authoritarian ruler to maintain power is through co-optation. Co-optation is a process where the regime creates relationships with organizations or individuals, guaranteeing them certain rewards for their support.

In Russia, the authoritarian government stays in power using the coercion method. Many critics of the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, seem to either get murdered or end up in prison. Although the Kremlin denies the accusations against them, it is highly unlikely for all these critics to be punished for a different reason other than Putin wanting their voices to not be heard. The latest assassination was on a top official of Russia’s Republican Party, Boris Nemtsov. He had been arrested multiple times in the past for protesting against Putin and was avidly against Putin’s government. The Kremlin claims “enemies of Russia” caused the assassination, but supporters of Nemtsov are suspicious of Putin. These assassinations and arrests create fear for the people to oppose the government. Therefore, they simply do not oppose the regime, leading the regime to stay in power with little to no opposition.


O’Neil, Patrick H. Essentials of Comparative Politics. 5th ed. S.l.: W W Norton, 2015.

Gat, Azar “The Return of Authoritarian Great Powers.” Foreign Affairs July/August 2007.

“Nemtsov isn’t the first Putin critic to end up dead; Kremlin denies targeting foes”

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