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Articles on Authoritarianism

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A train attendant in Nanchang, China, gestures in solidarity with medical staff departing for the city of Wuhan, Feb. 13, 2020. STR/AFP via Getty Images

Coronavirus unites a divided China in fear, grief and anger at government

Public criticism of the Chinese government's handling of coronavirus shows that the Chinese people can overcome both strict censorship and a gaping class divide when they get angry enough.
Pakistani Islamists march to protest the Supreme Court lenient treatment of Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman accused of blasphemy, in Karachi, Feb. 1, 2019. ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images

Execution for a Facebook post? Why blasphemy is a capital offense in some Muslim countries

Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia all punish blasphemy harshly – even with death. Such laws have political as well as religious motives, says a scholar on Islamism: They're a tool for crushing dissent.
Two autocrats: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, left, and Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, right, in Budapest, Hungary, Nov. 7, 2019. AP/Presidential Press Service

So you want to be an autocrat? Here’s the 10-point checklist

Today’s autocrats rarely use brute force to wrest control. A human rights and international law scholar details the modern authoritarian's latest methods to grab and hold power.
Mohammed Morsi, a member of the controversial Islamist political organization the Muslim Brotherhood, was Egypt’s first democratically elected president. He was overthrown in a coup in 2013 and died on trial this June. Reuters/Amr Dalsh

How two Islamic groups fell from power to persecution: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s Gulenists

A few years ago, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey's Gulenists were running the show. Now both religious movements face political repression. How did they fall so far, so fast?
Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, on June 27, several days after his election. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

Erdoğan’s control over Turkey is ending – what comes next?

Turkey's authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was handed a big defeat recently when his party's candidate lost a crucial election contest. Is this the beginning of Erdogan's demise?
Riot police at an anti-government march in Managua, Nicaragua, Oct. 14, 2018. Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas

One year after Nicaraguan uprising, Ortega is back in control

A massive protest movement exploded across Nicaragua in April 2018, threatening to topple the country's authoritarian regime. What happened to Central America's 'tropical spring?'
Campaign ads for Ali Bongo in his successful 2009 bid to succeed his father as president of Gabon. The Bongo family has lead Gabon uninterrupted for over 50 years. Reuters/Daniel Magnowski

As its ruling dynasty withers, Gabon – a US ally and guardian of French influence in Africa – ponders its future

Gabon's strongman president, Ali Bongo, is barely clinging to power after contested elections, a stroke and a coup attempt. The Bongo family has run this stable central African nation for 52 years.
The Algerian population has taken to the streets in a peaceful and nonviolent manner to protest against President Bouteflika’s running for a fifth term of office. Ryad Kramdi/AFP

Protesters in Algeria use nonviolence to seek real political change

Demonstrations against Abdelaziz Bouteflika have opened up a rare space for debate and self-expression – and could signal a change to a more free and involved civil society in Algeria.
A rally celebrating the second anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, March 18, 2016. AP/Ivan Sekretarev

Autocracies that look like democracies are a threat across the globe

Almost one-third of countries around the world are authoritarian regimes with the trappings of democracy. Their bad behavior poses a threat to real democracies, as the United States recently learned.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro created a new cryptocurrency called the ‘Petro’ to combat hyperinflation. Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Is authoritarianism bad for the economy? Ask Venezuela – or Hungary or Turkey

When an elected leader turns autocratic, the economy tends to suffer. That's because, in a functioning democracy, economic policy is made jointly, with lawmakers playing a key role.

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