Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Illarionov and Chalabi

Two news items ...

The first: Putin aide Andrei Illarionov has handed in his resignation to his boss, citing profound disagreements with the direction of policy.

Illarionov's resignation highlights the emergence of new business-political blocs in Russia, each grouped around a different state-controlled company or sector of the economy. It also signals his frustration that the Putin Administration did not use its consolidation of power to vigorously promote liberal reforms.

What it says to me is that the transition to 2008 is in full swing. If Putin was preparing to stay for a third term (in violation of the Russian Constitution), one would expect that he would continue to push his agenda through. Instead, a process of consolidation is now underway which suggests that the "regime" (and here I mean the principal actors and rules of the political game) is being stabilized, in preparation for a stable transfer of power to the next candidate. More and more, I think we should revisit what happened in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s for how this is done.

The second: Ahmad Chalabi is reportedly short of the votes needed to enter the Iraqi Assembly--and if so, he would be ineligible for any ministerial position. Of interest:

"Chalabi's supporters had hoped he would do well among exile voters who were allowed to cast ballots overseas. But results released Monday showed he received 0.89 percent of the special vote."

Is this another manifestation of what I may start calling "Takeyh's rule": "If you're running a campaign to appeal to Westerners, you lose every time!

It's all part of my plan--Andrei will form the "plausible" liberal opposition party, maybe with Mr. Two-Percent Kasianov, to make the elections 'competitive' in 2008.
An interesting question is whether an opposition group like Rodina is prepared to make common cause with disaffected former Putinites like Illarionov, on the platform of fighting corruption and making the economy work. SPS is natural home for Illarionov but in some ways discredited by its various maneuvers since 2000.

The other question is extent to which others in Putin circle share Illarionov's view but are keeping quiet now to secure positions and access to wealth.
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