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Author: Cameron Ross

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.

Open Access (free)
Cameron Ross

FAD1 10/17/2002 5:40 PM Page 1 1 Introduction Democracy and democratisation Since the early 1970s a ‘third wave’ of democratisation has swept the world. In the period 1972–94 the number of democratic political systems doubled from 44 to 107. And by the mid-1990s 58 per cent of the world’s states had adopted democratic governments.1 These momentous developments have led political scientists to re-examine the theoretical literature on democratisation, and to compare the current transitions in the post-communist bloc with earlier transitions in Latin America

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Cameron Ross

stress the negative side, federalism is the problem rather than the solution, particularly in multinational states where ethnic boundaries coincide with boundaries of the federal subjects. Federalism, according to this scenario, is much more likely to intensify the nationalist grievances it is supposed to ameliorate. As Smith notes: FAD4 10/17/2002 54 5:43 PM Page 54 Federalism and democratisation in Russia Federalism provides incentives for structuring group/class conflicts along territorial lines, [and] when the territories in question are spatial surrogates of

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Open Access (free)
Cameron Ross

Page 138 Federalism and democratisation in Russia whom they were supposed to be controlling. Moreover, governors in many regions captured control over the appointment of the representatives. In some cases bilateral treaties actually gave the governors the right to appoint their own presidential representatives or to approve presidential nominees. Indeed, in some cases presidential representatives were actually high ranking members of regional elites. Thus, for example, in Stavropol¢ Krai we had the absurd sitation whereby the presidential representative

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Open Access (free)
Cameron Ross

subjects. And, as we discussed in chapter 3, Yeltsin further undermined the authority of the Constitution by signing forty-six bilateral treaties with the regions. Before long there was a ‘war of laws’ between federal and republican constitutions. Indeed, federal relations have been regulated by five competing and contradictory sources of law: (1) the federal Constitution, (2) the Federal Treaty, (3) federal laws, (4) bilateral treaties, and, (5) the constitutions and charters of the republics and FAD10 10/17/2002 174 6:04 PM Page 174 Federalism and democratisation

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Executive versus legislative power
Cameron Ross

of chief executives and members of regional administrations, and of their right to FAD7 10/17/2002 124 6:01 PM Page 124 Federalism and democratisation in Russia bring sanctions against the executive, or to express a vote of no confidence in the governors.16 The right of a legislative veto over decrees of the chief executive now required the vote of two-thirds of the deputies and not as previously a simple majority. Indeed, Gel¢man notes, that if you compared the competence of the regional assemblies in 1994 with the powers of the two chambers of the federal

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Cameron Ross

federation’.2 This is not to say that the federal subjects in the USSR were totally powerless and subservient to the central authorities or that nationalist demands had been quelled when Gorbachev took over the reins of power in 1985. For paradoxically, the very policies which the communists had used to placate nationalism ended up giving it succour. As Bialer notes, FAD2 10/17/2002 18 5:41 PM Page 18 Federalism and democratisation in Russia the concept and reality of Soviet federalism contained a dangerous dualism: ‘On the one hand it granted to formed nations

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Crafting authoritarian regimes in Russia’s regions and republics
Cameron Ross

a democracy: FAD9 10/17/2002 6:03 PM 158 Page 158 Federalism and democratisation in Russia 1) All citizens must have the right to vote, with no exclusion based on sex, race, opinion or religion, 2) voting must be secret so as to minimize potential intimidation, 3) the election must be regular: it must be held at steady intervals, as prescribed by law, 4) the whole process must be fair, devoid of violence or fraud and, 5) finally, the election must be competitive, that is to say, all positions can be contested, all groups or parties may run candidates and

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Regional elections and political parties
Cameron Ross

and democratisation in Russia In one region, the elections were postponed until March 1997; in 31 regions until December 1997; and in four regions until as late as March 1998. Once again, this legislation did not apply to the ethnic republics which continued to elect their own presidents and to control the timing of elections to their assemblies. A number of regional assemblies were only too happy to have their powers prolonged, whilst in others appeals against the decrees were placed before the courts (e.g. Republic of Marii El, Kemerovo, Sakhalin, and Tula

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia
Cameron Ross

/17/2002 74 5:44 PM Page 74 Federalism and democratisation in Russia control over regional finances even further. Thus, for example, the centre now controls 100 per cent of the value-added tax whereas previously the regions controlled 15 per cent of it. The regions have also been left with a smaller percentage of turnover tax to finance housing and roads. Responding to these developments, Belgorod Governor Yevgenii Savchenko declared that the new tax regime would lead to the ‘formation of a unitary state in which all regions will be dependent on the centre’.9 And

in Federalism and democratisation in Russia