In 2020, a leadership of the Chinese Communist Party was elected which owed little or nothing to the Maoist period, and had for many years seen it as a time of horror and repression. Like Mikhail Gorbachev in the late eighties, they grasped that the system they ran was dysfunctional: unlike Gorbachev, they had a strong economy and a growing and increasingly active middle class. Their decision to superintend a phased but determined shift to democratic elections unleashed many tensions: but they were able to contain these, and to see develop parties pledged to pluralism, peaceful competition and (once elected) responsible government. The success of the move removed the last great example of authoritarian rule, and put further and heavy pressure on the remaining autocracies - all of which, in the next three decades, moved towards greater democracy and began to vie with each other, and the longer established democratic states, in going beyond electoral democracy to deeper forms, with greater equality and greater openness at the heart of these projects.
Author: John Lloyd
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