How Authoritarians Inflate Their Image

Issue Date July 2021
Volume 32
Issue 3
Page Numbers 109-23
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Authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China are skillfully puffing themselves up to appear more economically, politically, and militarily powerful than they actually are—in particular, by presenting an outsized image of their ability to influence the politics of other countries. The success of this “authoritarian inflation” is clearly visible in Europe, the United States, and beyond. Distorted perceptions of authoritarian potency damage democratic confidence and help Russia and China to exert real influence, which in turn undermines Western values and institutions. If left unchallenged, these false perceptions will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

About the Author

Péter Krekó is director of the Political Capital Policy Research and Consulting Institute in Budapest and associate professor at Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences. In 2020–21, he was a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.

View all work by Péter Krekó