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Russian Federation: Background Notes. Population 146.9 million Size 6,592,735 sq. mi. Head of State : Vladimir Putin Prime Minister: Mikhail Fradkov (3/04-present)

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Russian Federation: Background Notes


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    1. Russian Federation: Background Notes • Population 146.9 million • Size 6,592,735 sq. mi. • Head of State: Vladimir Putin • Prime Minister: Mikhail Fradkov (3/04-present) • PeopleNationality: Noun and adjective--Russian(s). Annual growth rate: Negative. Ethnic groups: Russian 81%, Tatar 4%, Ukrainian 3%, other 12%. • Religions: Russian Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant, Buddhist, other.

    2. Political System • Current system “transitioning democracy” • Intense conflict over power and property (1991-00) • Results from: • Thousand years of statehood • 70 years of communist rule • One decade of democratic reform • Cultural structure • Deeply authoritarian

    3. Importance • Post communist Russia the inheritor of the Soviet military industrial complex • Geo-political location • Size and natural resources • Enduring international alliances

    4. New system versus old system • New political system has inherited the baggage of the past • Tax collection difficult • Governmental orientation attempting to move from Soviet military emphasis to democratic, socio-economic, civic orientation

    5. Changing Institutions • 9th century onward Russia ruled by hereditary monarch • 20th century tsar agreed to a constitution calling for legislature – authoritarian orientation remained • Peter the Great (1682-1725) • Catherine the Great (1762-1796)

    6. Revolution • 1917 Russian Revolution • Create a socialist society and spread revolutionary socialism throughout the world • Lenin (1917-1924) • Stalin (1924-1953) • Tsarist order collapses unable to deal with modern world (WWI) • Left a legacy of absolute rule • Separation of state from society

    7. Communist Leaders • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1917-1924) • Joseph Stalin (1924-1953) • Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964) • Lenoid Brezhnev (1964-1982) • Yuri Andropov (1982-1984) • Konstantin Chernenko (1984-1985) • Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1990)

    8. Gorbachev • Glastnost – need for greater openness within the political system • Overcentralization had stymied the exercise of political power at lower levels of government • Resistance to orders • Distortion of information • Bureaucratic immobilism

    9. Gorbachev • Wanted to reform the economic system • Citizen well-being the ultimate test of a successful system • Market relations • Pragmatism in economic policy • Less secrecy

    10. Gorbachev’s Reforms • Law-governed state • Even the communist party • International arms control treaties • USA, arms reduction agreements • Free elections • Citizens began to organize into groups • Working parliament

    11. 1989 • Eastern European satellites comprising the “Soviet Bloc” collapsed • At least in part due to loss of economic support • Multiparty parliamentary regimes emerged • Elaborate ties to the Soviets in all areas vanished • Reunified Germany remains a member of NATO (Gorbachev agrees in 1990)

    12. 1989 and consequences for Soviet Union • Popular hostility • Loss of authority • power transferred to elected bodies • Private property and free markets emerge • Rise of an economic system that begins in a state of chaos. • National republics (15) with new legislatures began to declare their independence

    13. Collapse • 1990 elections stimulated political discourse on democracy • Boris Yeltsin wins election to the Russian Supreme Soviet • Spring 1991 Gorbachev begins negotiations on new political structures; confederal union between 9 of the 15 republics • At the signing ceremony Gorbachev is placed under house arrest and by his own vice-president, KGB chief, and other officials

    14. Citizen Response • Citizens take to the street to protest the coup; Yeltsin calls for Gorbachev’s return to office • Coup collapses after three days…Gorbachev is returned to office -- powerless • Confederal arrangement (union) is taken over by the Russian government throughout Fall of 1991 • November 1991 President Yeltsin decrees that the Communist party is illegal • December 25, 1991 Gorbachev resigns turns power over to Yeltsin

    15. Explanation for Eastern European Collapse? • Reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev • But what made these reforms necessary? • Dependence on the Red Army and Soviet money • What about governmental structures? • Economic Crisis • Fails to account for timing – economic crisis the norm • New Social movements • Long march of the opposition

    16. Democratic Transition: Russia • Questions raised about democracy: • Can we simply set institutions, laws and leaders into place? • Does democracy require something more? Social identification or economic conditions? • Does democracy emerge only from within or can it be imposed from without?

    17. Transition: 1990-1993 • June 1991 Yeltsin elected president of the Russian Federation • Direct popular election • Yeltsin demands extraordinary powers to deal with economic problems • January 1992 new economic reforms took effect

    18. Transition: 1990-1993 • January 1992: • Prices skyrocketed • Mid-1992: • Opposition to shock therapy approach grows • Yeltsin and reformers versus opponents of radical reform • Yeltsin exceeds constitutional power to carry out reforms • Parliament refuses to adopt a new constitution giving him greater powers.

    19. Transition: 1990-1993 • http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/constit.html • March 1993: a motion to impeach the president introduced in Congress • September 1993 Yeltsin dissolves parliament – December elections • Opponents barricade themselves in parliament building • Army launches an attack on the building killing several.

    20. “Shock Therapy” • The sudden release of price and currency controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, and immediate trade liberalization within a country. • Roots in the 1947-48 withdrawal of government support and price controls in post war Germany – which had the effect of jump starting the economy – basis of modern day economic neo-liberalism

    21. Neo-liberalism • The political-economic philosophy de-emphasizing/rejecting government intervention in the domestic economy. • Domestic focus is on free-market methods, fewer restrictions on business operations, and property rights. • International focus is on opening foreign markets by political means, using economic pressure, diplomacy, and/or military intervention.

    22. Domestic Consequences? • Short-term unemployment rates 20-40% • Increased crime rates • Increased social tensions between the poor and the rich. • Some argue these consequences reflect poor implementation. • Sudden changes to economic structure and incentives require changes to behavior, financial flows and the structure of the economy that CANNOT occur QUICKLY. • Firms must be founded and build up • Human capital – skill acquisition • Establishing legal frameworks for regulation and established practices (including coordination between domestic and international spheres) not automatic. • Property law and rights must be redefined (simultaneous with political redefinition)

    23. Yeltsin constitution of 1993 • December 1993 elections to approve the old and new constitutions • New constitution created a “presidential republic” • Combined presidential/parliamentary regime • Dual executive, popularly elected president • President appoints a government that must sustain the confidence of parliament to remain in power • President has power to issue decrees with force of law w/parliamentary override • President appoints the Prime Minister

    24. Yeltsin 1993 Constitution • Makeup of government not directly determined by party composition of Parliament • Most members of government career managers. • Government is not party government. • Focuses power in hands of the president. • President appoints Prime Minister with parliamentary approval • Duma can refuse to confirm • After three refusals to confirm a presidential nominee, the President may dissolve the Duma and call for new elections. • Duma may hold vote of no confidence in the government • First time a motion of no confidence carries, the president may ignore it. • A second motion of no confidence means the president must either dissolve the parliament or dismiss the government

    25. Institutions • President – head of state and guarantor of the constitution, not chief executive – foreign/security policy • Prime Minister – oversees economy • Parliament – Federal Assembly • State Duma (lower house) • Originates legislation • Federation Council (upper house) • Duma has override ability in relationship between two houses • Executive-Legislative Relations • Strong executive with legislative checks • Parliamentary approval required for legislation • Constitutional requirement of parliamentary confidence in government

    26. Federation with 89 subunits 21 republics, 55 provinces, 11 autonomous districts, 2 federal cities Dual Executive Directly elected president Presidential appointment of Prime Minister With approval of the State Duma President is strongest figure in the system Semi-presidential system Complicated impeachment process Commander-in-chief Power to declare state of emergency; Impose martial law; Grant pardons; Call referendums Temporarily suspend action of other state organs Executive

    27. Federal Assembly • State Duma (450) • 1993 election reform 225 single member district and 225 party lists with 5% of “valid party list vote” • Form of proportional representation • each citizen can vote in one single member district and cast one party list ballot • Party factions important in internal organization • Council of the Duma – The steering body which has one representative from each party • Sets legislative agenda, proceedings, brokers compromises • Duma uses 28 committees to organize internally • Originates most legislation • Power to override President and Federation Council

    28. Federal Assembly • Federation Council (178) • Two representatives from each constituent unit (89) of the federation • Indirectly selected by governors (one appointment) and state legislatures (one elected) • Because constitution requires executive/legislative representation of the subunits. • Not organized along party lines. • 40 members elected to lead the body • 11 committees • Mostly majority rule (90) but occasionally various supermajorities required. • Powers: • Less legislative power than Duma (reactive) • Approves presidential nominees to courts • Approves presidential decrees (martial law, emergency) • Taxes, budget, financial policy, war, treaties, customs

    29. Elections • 1995 parliamentary elections free and fair • 1996 presidential elections free and fair • Political parties – proliferation of parties has been widespread, opening the possibility (but not yet) of political fragmentation • Yeltsin’s “Ring” – • August 9, 1999 names Putin acting Prime Minister • Resigns Dec 31, 1999 • 1999 parliamentary elections free and fair • 2000 presidential elections free and fair • Yeltsin Timeline

    30. Presidential Election Results (3/14/04)

    31. Constitutional Court • 19 members • Nominated by President, confirmed by Federation Council • Judicial Review of acts of President, Parliament and lower level governments • Through 1999 no decisions rendering Yeltsin’s activities unconstitutional

    32. Elite Recruitment • Corporatist style approach to interest articulation under Soviet system • Nomenklatura • Regime channeled citizen efforts into officially approved organizations • Political leaders recruited through such systems – “the nomenklatura” – ruling class • Democratic reforms • Ended nomenklatura system • Elites adapted but new infusion of people did occur

    33. Interest Articulation • Social interests re-organizing in past ten years • Range and intensity of ideas has been startling • Gorbachev unable to control political expression when it went too far • Four groups as examples (1-3 tied to soviet era orgs) • Industrial managers: recipients of property in privatization transition • Women’s groups: motherhood, voting and elections • Organized labor: wage arrears stimulated some protest-why not more? Co-option, disunity, worker dependency on • New oligarchs: elites who survived and prospered in transition

    34. Interest Aggregation • Electoral Rules are a combination of party lists and single-member districts • Parties (26) • Opposition: Community Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Agrarian Party • Democratic Parties: Russia’s Choice, Yabloko, Our Home is Russia • Parliamentary Center: Women of Russia, Regions of Russia • Fragmentation and Consolidation

    35. Political Parties • The 1999 elections were contested by: Conservative Movement of Russia, Russian All-Peoples Union, Women of Russia, Stalin Bloc-For the USSR, Yabloko, Working Russia, Peace-Labor-May, Bloc of Nikolayev and Federov, Spiritual Heritage, Congress of Russian Communities, Peace and Unity Party, Party for the Protection of Women, Unity Interregional Movement, Social Democrats, Movement in Support of the Army, Zhirinovskiy's Bloc, For Civic Dignity, Fatherland-All Russia, Communist Party, Russian Cause, All-Russian Political Party of the People, Union of Right Forces, Our Home is Russia, Socialist Party of Russia, Party of Pensioners and the Russian Socialist Party. (26)

    36. Political Culture and Public Opinion • Values reflect gulf between state and society • High values on democracy • Higher values on democracy among younger cohorts • Democratic values higher for ‘self’ than ‘other’ • Problem of mix of ‘order’ and ‘democracy’

    37. Cultural Summary • Extensive support in Russia for democratic institutions and processes if people see these as rights for themselves. • Support lessens for extending rights to minorities. • Segments of the population most exposed to modern civilization are most likely to support democratic values. • Implications of these research findings for the preceeding 1,070 years of authoritarian rule?

    38. Commitment to Democratic Values? • Core of commitment to democratic values exists • Levels of satisfaction with the current system are low • Levels of confidence in existing political institutions are low • Implications?

    39. 2008 Elections • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_presidential_election,_2008

    40. Russian presidential election results (March 2008)