Let's say that you're an autocrat, like me, and those pesky opposition groups in your country are insisting on electoral reforms, legislative transparency, and some other generic bywords for the democratic impulse. You need to nip this in the bud before it escalates (no, Bashar, not like that). But what if, at the same time, you're facing the specter of an election? Can you really afford to make even token concessions toward democratic reforms, and risk the unthinkable -- losing at the polls?
Don't despair! There is a solution, a subtle and ingenious one currently being employed by my friend Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. It's simply this: move fast, be decisive, schedule a quick election before the opposition can coalesce, before the reforms go through, before the West can send in observers, and then ... pull back. Change your mind! Call a halt and request an 'emergency' extension of the vote -- while insisting that the extra time won't be adequate for instituting reforms.
Sound confusing? It should be. Mr. Mugabe and I are on the same page here -- by the time you enemies figure out what happened, you'll have 'won' 90% of vote and blocked any nascent reforms.
Don't you love it when that happens? I know I do. And don't forget -- read my book, especially chapter 12, and get some more election tips.