Protest publics as democratic innovators in authoritarian environments
This chapter aims to examine how mass protests affected processes of socio-political changes in Russia and China in the case of Hong Kong and Turkey. All three countries (with certain exceptions in the case of Hong Kong) are characterized as authoritarian states where blast of mass protests happened during the period 2011-2017. In each case, the situation with authoritarian rule has different aspects: Russia slowly moves from a democratic hybrid regime to authoritarianism since 2003 under control of president Vladimir Putin; In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is trying to unite the nation around his figure and changing political regime to achieve undisputed power; Hong Kong was under British rule till 1999 and returned into China on a particular agreement that the political regime established during the “colonial” period, which will not be reduced to all-China conditions. Nevertheless, different pathways led to similar results – shrinking space for independent political institutions and violations of fundamental rights and freedoms are not tolerated by the part of society in all three countries. Without working mechanisms to launch policy change, citizens choose protests as a way to show authorities their disagreement and anger over the authoritarian manner of policy-making.