The Russia-China Relationship and Democratic Decline: A Conversation with Dr. Andrea Kendall-Taylor

This interview was conducted by Lukas Bundonis and Grady Jacobsen.

Fletcher Security Review (FSR): Good Afternoon Dr. Kendall-Taylor, thank you for speaking with us. Your recent talk at Fletcher on the evolution of autocracy and democratic decline in Europe and Eurasia was fascinating, but it raised even more questions, so let’s jump right in.

We’d like to start by digging deeper into your interpretation of the Russian reshuffling that we’re seeing. Clearly, Putin is looking for a way to maintain his power after his term ends in 2024. Is there anything you can see that might get in the way of this plan? In other words, do you think it will work?

Andrea Kendall-Taylor (AKT): I do think it will work, based largely on the way these types of transitions tend to play out in other authoritarian regimes. When you look at the data on regimes that look most like Putin—these highly personalized authoritarian regimes where leaders have been in power for fifteen years or more—the most common way that transitions tend to occur is through a natural death in office. It is around forty percent, which is pretty high, then it’s about fif‐ teen percent through protests, fifteen percent through coups, and it goes down from there. If I were playing the odds in Las Vegas, I would guess that he has a high prospect of pulling this off in a way that enables him to continue to pull the strings of power well beyond 2024, even until he eventually dies in office. But you know, although a coup is probably unlikely in Russia, the statistical breakdown of protests and coups at fifteen percent each isn’t nothing and the country certainly has relatively high levels of discontent over economic stagnation…

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This piece was republished from the Fletcher Security Review.

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