SIPA department presents Democracy Conference exploring democratic and authoritarian structures globally

Panel two panelists, Inga K. Trauthig (far left), Adrian Shahbaz (middle left), Tatiana Kostadinova (center) and Besiki Kutateladze (middle right) seated right before they began with moderator Milena Neshkova (far right). | Danette Heredia, PantherNOW

Danette Heredia | Staff Writer

The School of International & Public Affairs presented its second annual Conference on Global Democracy where eight different panelists broke down the crucial role democracy plays in today’s global affairs, as well as the active regimes in China and Russia.

Christopher Walker, Glenn Tiffert, Alina Polyakova, Eric Lob, Inga K. Trauthig, Adrian Shahbaz, Tatiana Kostadinova and Besiki Kutateladze are all educated on an array of subjects ranging from public policy to international relations.

Experts brought to FIU to give opinions on the manipulation and tactics that authoritarian politicians are utilizing in campaigns and media and how democratic means can allow these citizens to get their voices heard.

Sharp power was a key idea throughout the discussion, defined as the authoritarian principle of seizing power from the government and its people

By identifying these regimes that utilize sharp power, the precursors of these structures can be identified and neutralized if needed. 

Tatiana Kostadinova emphasized that many of these regimes go about taking sharp power through conniving methods.

“They come to power through elections…That’s why it’s hard to detect from the very beginning. It happens to the electoral process, through the democratic process of the country; and it happens slowly, it doesn’t start immediately after an authoritarian-minded leader comes to power,” says Kostadinova during panel two.

In the case where authoritarian leaders do come to power, they follow three certain steps to maintain that power that Adrian Shahbaz highlights: dividing the public, capturing institutions and changing the rules in their favor.

“Once they have control of the media, they can control the message. The media becomes this propaganda mouthpiece, not only for how good the government is doing but then for also skewing this type of polarizing rhetoric,” says Shahbaz.

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