This study analyzes theoretically and empirically the background of the rise to power of Vladimir Putin in Russia and Recip Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. It situates this analysis in the contexts of the historical assessment of the fragility of liberal democracy and the persistence and growth of authoritarianism, populism, and dictatorship in many parts of the world. The authors argue that the question whether Putin and Erdogan can make Russia and Turkey great again is hard to confirm; personal ambition for power and wealth is certainly key to an understanding of both rulers. They each squandered opportunities to build from free and fair democratic electoral legitimacy and economic progress. The prospect for restored national greatness depends on how they can handle the economic and political challenges they now face and will continue to face in the near future, in a climate of global pandemic and economic recession. Both rulers so far have succeeded in maintaining and increasing their powers and influence in their respective regions, but neither has made real contributions to regional stability and order. Chaos seems to be growing, and the EU and the U.S. thus far seem unable to provide coherent responses to mitigate the impact of their adventurism and disruption.
Norman A. Graham is professor of international Relations at Michigan State University's James Madison College of Public Affairs.
Timur Kocaoglu teaches international relations and Turkic languages at Michigan State University, where he also serves as associate director of the Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (CERES) at Michigan State University.
Folke Lindahl is professor emeritus of political theory and constitutional democracy at Michigan State University’s James Madison College of Public Affairs.
Ch. 1: The “Waves of Democratization” versus the Persistence of Authoritarianism in Eurasia
Part I. From the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation
Ch. 2: Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism in the Soviet Union
Ch. 3: Yeltsin in Search of a Viable Russian Federation
Ch. 4: Putin -- Making Russia Great Again Through Foreign Adventurism and Authoritarian Political Power
Part II. From the Founding of the Republic of Turkey to the Authoritarian President
Ch. 5: The Collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Emergence of Atatürk’s Republic
Ch. 6: Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Maturing of the Republic Gaining State Power Over the Economy and the Transition to Democracy
Conclusion: Is Authoritarianism (and Economic Stagnation) the Normal Eurasian Way?
With incisive analytical skill, Making Russia and Turkey Great Again offers a long range perspective on the evolution of authoritarianism and the emergence of populism in both countries. This is a fascinating, absorbing, original account bringing the respective stories of Turkey and Russia to the present day, while exploring major political and social changes of the last century. The book thoroughly explains the rise of authoritarianism and nostalgia for their respective empires. This timely comparative study is recommended for readers interested in how environments for authoritarianism become fertile and are cultivated.
The most observant political scientists of the day, as the authors of this book are, are mainly concerned with the various forms of leadership in modern democracy. The main issue of this book is a profound analysis of the recent political developments in Russia and Turkey. But the well-known authors of Eurasian politics also wished to contribute to the contemporary questions of democratic leadership on the basis of A. Tocqueville’s ideas. Is leadership by authority compatible with democratic rule and economic development? The reader is offered a thorough analysis of two interesting countries (Russia, Turkey), and as a second level of research, vexing issues of democratic leadership are passionately treated by the authors of this clearly and carefully written book.