Life-Long President

by Jennifer Garcia

President Xi giving a speech in Beijing China. Credit: Kenzaburo Fukuhara-Pool

President Xi Jinping of China is looking at a future of indefinite presidency. One of the most powerful leaders in the country’s history, China’s National People’s Congress, voted to change China’s constitution which allows the president to keep his power beyond his scheduled end of term in 2023. The original law called for a maximum two consecutive term presidency but the constitutional change allows the president to serve indefinitely. The change was overwhelmingly approved by the Chinese Communist Party with 2,962 out of 2,964 votes in favor of the change.

President Xi’s increased power reflects China’s more aggressive position on the world stage. President Xi expanded Chinese control in the disputed South China Sea, reformed state-owned companies, and has planned to reform the state’s control of the economy. Simultaneously, he has overseen the expansion of his country’s armed forces.

In a similar situation, Vladimir Putin of Russia just won a new six-year term as president. He has ruled the country since 1999 through either the presidency or as prime minister. His reelection shows the negative aspect of an extended presidency. There have been accusations of a rigged election because which excluded Putin’s main political opponents excluded from running and were not present on the ballot. One opponent was mysteriously assassinated and the other and the other was barred from  running due to a legal issue with the European Court of Human Rights.

According to ForeignPolicy.com China and Russia together account for 16.4% of the world’s GDP and 20.34% of the world’s population according to the worldometers.info. Almost 1/5 of the world’s economic production and just over 1/5 of the entire world’s population. These nations are governed by “elected” presidents, however, Dictionary.com defines president as an officer appointed or elected to govern over an organized body of persons; dictator is defined as a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.