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Technology and society

Hossein Derakhshan
Media analyst

Journalist and media researcher at Harvard's Shorenstein and MIT Media lab. Freed from Iranian prison after six years, in Nov 2014. Email: [email protected]

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piqer: Hossein Derakhshan
Saturday, 02 February 2019

Is This Democracy Or Smart Autocracy?

Looking at Venezuela these days, one would agree that coups are not trendy anymore. The expansion of the global media, such as satellite televisions and the internet, have perhaps made it awkward for dictators to march machine guns and tanks in streets to secure their power. In the age of ‘smart’ things, such as phones, cities, economic sanctions, and bombs, there seems to emerge a new phenomenon: smart tyranny.

Matt Qvortrup, a political scientist at Coventry University who is described by the BBC as 'the world's leading authority on referendums', examines the various techniques and strategies for autocrats to consolidate power in conversations with people in Venezuela, Poland, Hungry, and Kenya. Strategies such as: subtle and convincing election manipulation, appointing loyal allies to high judicial posts, controlling the press with soft and hard power, rewarding lackeys and punishing opponents with giving them or taking away from them government jobs, and exploiting technology for targeted political advertising or even for rigging elections.

This episode of BBC Radio Four’s Analysis podcast is produced by Bob Howard.

Is This Democracy Or Smart Autocracy?
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