Authoritarianism or Democracy?

  • Christer Pursiainen
  • Minxin Pei


The Freedom House comparison, which measures ‘freedom’ as the opportunity for citizens to act spontaneously in a variety of fields outside the control of the government and other centres of potential domination, listed both Russia and China as ‘not free’ in 2011. In a separate evaluation of ‘political rights’ and ‘civil liberties’, on a scale of 1 to 7, Russia receives 6 and 5 and China 7 and 6 respectively, thus ending up in the worst class of countries. According to this data and interpretation, while China has remained authoritarian, the Russian authoritarian turn took place in 2005; until then Russia had been ‘partly free’ since the early 1990s.1 This evaluation might be open to question, but it reflects rather well the picture drawn from the perspective of liberal democracy as a model. The tumultuous reforms in Russia under Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s initially generated enormous hopes for the country’s transformation into a liberal democracy based on a market economy. However, the optimism of the 1990s turned out to be unfounded when Vladimir Putin, handpicked by Yeltsin, assumed the presidency and proceeded to install a new form of authoritarian rule. In the Chinese case, the post-1989 era has also ushered in a more distinctive form of post-communist autocracy, which has demonstrated an enormous capacity for adaptation and survival.


Civil Society Chinese Communist Party Liberal Democracy Cultural Revolution Party System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Christer Pursiainen 2012

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  • Christer Pursiainen
  • Minxin Pei

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