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LIFE PRESIDENT – MOCKERY OF DEMOCRACY

By N.S.Venkataraman
Now, Putin and Xi Jinping do not have the” burden “ of proving themselves to the people once again. The life Presidents can do whatever they want, with their job being secured life long.
(File: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where Putin presented Xi with a degree from St. Petersburg State University, on June 6, 2019. Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky-Pool via Reuters)

People of Russia have voted ,approving a constitutional amendment that allows Vladimir Putin to nix term limits and remain President until 2036..

This means Vladimir Putin has been elected as life President of Russia for all practical purposes and will stay as President for another sixteen years when he would reach 83 years of age. It is reported that more than 77% of Russians have voted in favour of Putin becoming life President.

Of course, some opposition parties in Russia have criticized this and have questioned the fairness in the election process..

Since the concept of life presidency has been approved in Russia, Putin may further extend his life president position, even after completing 16 years as life President .Will he leave this position, when it is so easy to become life President in Russia, by manipulating rules and procedures in the name of constitutional amendment and people’s vote.? He may devise some new “democratic strategy” to do so, after completing 83 years of age, when he would complete the term as life President

In the same way , it has been announced that Xi Jinping has been elected as life President of China. Members of communist party of China are reported to have overwhelmingly voted in favour of making Xi Jinping as life President. Unlike Russia, Xi Jinping has ensured that he would not have the limit of 16 years!

Russia claims that it has democratic form of governance and China too claims that it has People’s Democracy, whatever it may mean.

When someone is made the life President, it means that the people of the country have surrendered their rights to elect a new President, even when the performance of the incumbent President would be unsatisfactory and would displease the people.

In a healthy democracy, as we have in USA, India and a few other countries, elections are conducted periodically to elect the political leader of the country for a specific period, which is normally four to six years depending upon the country. Obviously, this implies that the leader has to prove his merits to the people and after a specific period his performance would be scrutinized by the people, when the periodic election would take place.

Now, Putin and Xi Jinping do not have the” burden “ of proving themselves to the people once again. The life Presidents can do whatever they want, with their job being secured life long.

The concept of life Presidentship is nothing but an anachronism in a democratic society, when people have no right to change the President for a very long period . Then, what is the concept of democracy all about?.

In recent times, we have seen in some countries that politicians subvert the concept of democracy to perpetuate themselves in power and impose themselves on the people and the country. Can we say that Putin and Xi Jinping are the immediate examples to prove this behavior of politicians to ensure that they would not lose power at any time?

One can not but think that the concept of life long President could lead to unrest, anarchy and violence, if the people would desire to change the President, in case the governance of the life long President would be unsatisfactory or oppressive. Then, the only way of replacing this life long President is to launch mass agitation or violent movement , that can even lead to blood shed and result in removal of the President by force.

Those in Russia and China who have favoured the concept of life President do not seem to have realised that the concept of life President is a calculated risk, as far as the future peace and progress of the country is concerned.

(Author N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.)

Published Date: Saturday, July 4th, 2020 | 06:46 AM

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