On Powerful Leaders…

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Mon 12 March / Mar 2018. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

I cannot imagine a future Russia without President Vladimir Putin.

The country’s entire resurgence as a major power is tied to the arrival of Putin to power, 18 years ago.

In the upcoming elections, just a few days from now, Putin is most likely to be re-elected for six more years. At least this is what the polls say, and honestly, no one doubts it. In his last interview, Putin said he does not intent to amend the constitution to allow for him to remain president for life.

Notably, Putin’s promises are to be taken seriously; he has always been “a man of his word”.

By the end of his current term, Putin will be seventy and is in very good health, compared to most of the Soviet rulers, as well as the world, as a matter of fact.

While Putin may not show interest in being president for life, he does reassure the Russians, mysteriously, of their future under the presidency of his successor. Contrarily, the Chinese president has chosen presidency for life.

Xi Jinping got parliament to pass the constitutional amendments not due to the party’s power or influence, or its control over the key power halls in China. But rather because it was under his presidency that China was able to find a place for itself at the big boys’ table. It was under his presidency that China’s economy became a world economic power.

Only Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, who also inherited the office from his brother, Fidel, the founder of the state and the leader of its revolution, stepped down at eighty. Cuba will soon see a general elections, and it is anticipated to bring an end to the reign of the ruling rebels and bring to office a new president who does not belong to the revolution.

The president to be is most likely Castro’s deputy, who’s in his fifties.

That said, Cuba may be on the path for a new future; a trajectory that may shift the discourse of its historical revolution.

Candidacy and elections in these three countries does not follow the European form of governance. No one can say it is a pure democracy in any of those three. Neither one of the three has an open democracy that is ruled by the ballot box.

In each of those three countries, the democratic discourse is precisely calculated to secure the desired results. But what these supposedly authoritarian governments have in common, according to the West, which is also what gives these regimes a strong popular acceptance, is economic progress, above all else.

Despite all the criticism on the restrictions on liberties, Putin has quite a strong popular basis, according to independent polls. In China, the state is strictly ruled by laws that restrain the people’s access to information and expression, under a one-party system. Still, in both countries, no one can argue the achievements made, both domestically and beyond.

Other “authoritarian” Arab regimes could have built a place for themselves, and strengthened their popularity among their peoples, had they achieved any mentionable development and welfare.

Like the Chinese and Russians, Arabs love powerful leaders, with or without democracy, so long as the leader is benevolent and just.

However, all we can remember are leaders who threw away their nations riches and resources without ever considering the interest of the people, whose lives they wasted and traded away.

There is no one recipe for governance, but only one condition surpasses all; justice.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.