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Politics in Russia
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Politics in Russia

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  1. Politics in Russia Political Parties and Elections

  2. Important political change • Democratization of political system • introduction of competitive elections • shift from a single-party system to a multiparty system

  3. Transformation of party system • Communist Party of Soviet Union used to dominate state and social institutions • no competition for political office • no mechanism to ensure accountability • party authority couldn’t be openly questioned • confusing array of political organizations have run candidates in elections since ’93

  4. New political parties • government efforts at tightening the conditions for party formation and registration • effect on small parties • effect on party coalitions • suppress democratic representation? • bring order to a chaotic and fragmented party structure?

  5. Russian political parties • generally form around a prominent individual • are generally associated with prominent political figures • increased political fragmentation • do not have a firm social base or stable constituency • a major cleavage: economic policy

  6. 4 main categories of parties • reformist parties • democracy and market • centrist parties • “parties of power” • communist parties • Communist Party of the Russian Federation • nationalist parties • Liberal Democratic Party of Russia

  7. Reformist parties • liberal democracy • dismantle political framework of socialism • guarantee individual freedom • rule of law • market economy • open and free market • property rights • Union of Right Forces and Yabloko

  8. Communist Party of the R.F.

  9. Communist Party of the R.F. • Major successor party to the CPSU • oppose radical market reforms • oppose privatization programs • oppose Western influence • most party-like of all parties • substantial organizational base • well-defined electoral following • large (but old) membership (~ 500,000)

  10. Communist Party of the R.F. • CPRF • rather stable electoral share • but unlikely to win parliamentary majority or presidency • CPRF leader Zyuganov • 1996 and 2000 presidential elections

  11. Yeltsin campaign in 1996 • Public opinion polls • 24% supported Zyuganov • 8% supported Yeltsin

  12. Economic reforms • Macro-economic stabilization • structural adjustment • cut state spending • increase taxation • end price controls • open trade • “shock therapy” • all “shock” but no “therapy” • Privatization

  13. Centrist parties: a paradox • Surveys indicate that voters would favor policies and values at the political center • e.g. social democratic party • but no one has succeeded in creating a major, lasting centrist party • social welfare state • political freedoms • private property rights

  14. Centrist “parties of power” • Our Home is Russia (1995 - ) • pro-government • centrist • moderately reformist • then Prime Minister headed it • never succeeded in defining a clear program • became a coalition of officeholders

  15. Unity (“United Russia”) • Formed 3 months before 1999 election • active assistance from • then President Yeltsin • then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin • received 23.3% of the vote in 1999

  16. Power transition in 1999-2000 • State Duma tried to impeach President Yeltsin but didn’t gather enough votes • Yeltsin announced that he would resign • Presidential election • 2000-03-06 • Vladimir Putin

  17. “parties of power” • Parties depend on official support • avoid building independent bases of organizational support • policy positions are vague • vanish when the major sponsors lose power • Unity would disintegrate if President Putin were to lose power or popular support

  18. Social bases of party support

  19. Electoral rules for State Duma • Similar to Germany’s hybrid system • each voter has 2 votes • 1 for a candidate for that district’s seat • 1 for a registered party on the party list • half of Duma (225 seats) elected from single-member districts • half of Duma (225 seats) selected by parties according to vote share (> 5%)

  20. 1999 State Duma election

  21. Pro-government majority • President Putin and his government could generally count on majority support • pro-government deputies depend on the Kremlin for political support • little effect on the makeup of government • administrators with no partisan affiliation • almost none were drawn from parliament

  22. Putin and Stability • Popular and effective politician • Has strengthened institutions despite lingering social economic problems • Has built up the power of the Kremlin and other parts of the central government • Has undermined aspects of democracy • without removing basic freedoms or eliminating competitive elections.