Here’s an outstanding article by Daniel Gros, Director of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies, and published by Project Syndicate. He observes that illiberal leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán have managed to concentrate power without losing popular support. However, he warns that as their mounting authoritarianism undermines prudent economic policies, they will find it increasingly difficult to keep the electorate happy.
The argument and conclusions are faltless. But what if the electorates in Russia, Turkey and Hungary become unhappy? Certainly, in Russia and Turkey, it’s hard to imagine popular uprisings and political change. More likely, with unhappy electorates, these regimes will become more repressive, tossing the ocassional anti-Western red meat to the masses. But special counsel, Robert Mueller investigation into Russian and Turkish involvement in US politics is likely to be a watershed, in both the US and possibly in Russia and Turkey too. As for Hungary, there will be the influence of the wider EU.
The worst case scenario, for the likes of Russia, Turkey and Hungary is deepening popular unhappiness with declining economic opportunities and their governments increasingly involved in foreign policy adventures, including wars, to deflect attention at home.