Building on earlier work, this text combines theoretical perspectives with empirical work, to provide a comparative analysis of the electoral systems, party systems and governmental systems in the ethnic republics and regions of Russia. It also assesses the impact of these different institutional arrangements on democratization and federalism, moving the focus of research from the national level to the vitally important processes of institution building and democratization at the local level and to the study of federalism in Russia.
Crafting authoritarian regimes in Russia’s regions and republics
shield in their quest to consolidate their various brands of authoritarianism. Moreover, the greater
the degree of autonomy given to a federal subject in Russia the greater
the degree of authoritarianism we find.
Below we discuss the various ways in which presidents and governors
have been able to gain a dominant control over their political systems. In
particular, we examine the way in which leaders of the ethnic republics
have been able to maintain power by manipulating the electoralsystem.
Sartori has described the electoralsystem as the most specific manipulative
been further consolidated by a third round of regional elections conducted
over the period 1999–2001.
Manipulation of the electoralsystem
However, the cynical nature in which President Yeltsin manipulated the
election process in the regions has done much to damage the develop-
Regional elections and political parties
ment of a democratic political culture. Yeltsin’s victory over the parliamentarians signalled a victory of executive power over legislative power
which eventually led to the development of a semi
Southern Europe. From my reading of this literature three major schools
can be identified.
One school has focused on the preconditions necessary for the emergence of stable democracy:
1 modernisation, industrialisation, urbanisation, education, capitalism
2 the nature of classes and the class structure, with a focus on the positive
role of the bourgeoisie or the proletariat;3
3 a democratic political culture and civil society;4
4 the importance of institutional factors,5 electoralsystems,6 type of
regime – parliamentary or presidential,7 the
Transgressing the cordon sanitaire: understanding the English Defence League as a social movement
support for such parties2 in the UK did not rise above 1 per cent until
2010–12; even then, at 1.8 per cent, support remained well below that in neighbouring countries such as France (13.6 per cent) and The Netherlands (12.7 per
cent) (Minkenberg, 2013: 20). The reasons for this are explored in more nuanced
ways by others (see Goodwin, 2011a) but might be summarised as resulting from
a combination of: the first-past-the-post electoralsystem, which significantly
reduces the incentive to vote for candidates with little chance of securing victory
in a given constituency
actors in crafting democracy or bolstering authoritarian
regimes. Here democratic elites are necessary for democracy.
In Russia the founding charters and constitutions (‘rules of the game’)
Executive versus legislative power
emerged out of elite conflict in the regions. Political elites struggled to
create the rules (e.g., a presidential or parliamentary system, a unitary or
federal system, a majoritarian, proportional, or mixed type of electoralsystem) so that they could win the game. Moreover, elites are liable to be
Constitutional asymmetry created political asymmetry. Before long there was a multitude of differing political
systems operating in the Russian Federation including different types
of political regime (presidential or parliamentary); electoralsystems
(proportional, majoritarian or mixed); and party systems. Across the
federation we could soon detect a political spectrum running from partial
democratisation at one end to delegative democracies and outright dictatorships at the other. However, one universal rule could be detected – the
greater the autonomy granted to a federal