They don’t have to. They don’t govern by consent, or even assent. They’re dictators, and they, at least if they’re any good at their jobs, they can do pretty much whatever the hell they want. Such as Kazakh president Nursaltan Nazarbayev. He’s presided over Kazakhstan since it broke off from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The country has never held a fair election, and it doesn’t look likely that it’ll do so anytime soon (I think if the Kazakhs aggravate us, we should send over Jimmy Carter, just to piss them off).
So, the Kazakh parliament has recently advanced a bill that basically would make Nazarbayev president for life. Pretty sweet gig, right? And Nazarbayev’s reaction? He vetoed it! Now, why would anyone put any kind of boundaries on their own power? Well, Nazarbayev’s clever. He’s playing hard to get. He can do so, pretty much because he’s been able to stack the parliament so thoroughly with his own supporters that they’re on the verge of overturning his veto, essentially telling him: ‘No, you cannot resign as our paramount leader, you will serve as long as we (read: you, Nazarbayev) want! We love you!’ Mind you, they’re doing this as he’s shoveling money into their bank accounts as fast as he possibly can, so it’s not all that heartfelt, it’s motivated more by politics and economics. Come to think of it, it’s not all that different from a US presidential party primary, though not nearly as egregious.
But really, you have to give Nazarbayev some credit. That’s a pretty deft move, at least politically speaking, playing hard to get. It’s better public relations too. Instead of lining up critics against a wall and shooting them in the head, he’s staging a very well orchestrated form of political theater. If his rule weren’t so despotic/corrupt/inefficient, I suppose I’d afford the bastard a level of grudging admiration, but I don’t think that there’s much to admire in this guy, other than his political instincts.