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Russia's Party System: Is Russian Federalism Viable?

Ordeshook, Peter C. (1996) Russia's Party System: Is Russian Federalism Viable? Social Science Working Paper, 962. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Is Russia likely to develop a stable or efficient federal system that matches the definitions of federalism commonly offered in the literature or the descriptions that characterize intergovernmental relations in Germany, Switzerland, or the United States? Unfortunately, our answer to this question is NO. Unlike other discussions of federal relations in Russia - discussions that focus on current economic circumstances, federal treaties, and relations between political elites—we reach this conclusion by taking the view that the extent to which a federal state integrates the functions of different levels of government is determined largely by its political party system and the incentives for cooperation engendered by electoral politics at all levels. Assuming that Russia will continue on the path of democratic reform, we consider the types of parties that are likely to emerge in the long run as a function of Russia's current constitutional structure, current electoral arrangements for choosing a president and a national legislature, and that structure political competition at the regional and local levels. We argue that parties in Russia will be more like those found in, say, Canada than in the United States and Germany. Russia's current electoral arrangements, in combination with the political institutional designs of its regional governments—designs that mirror the command and control systems inherited from the Soviet past and which focus power on regional governors—will continue to encourage only the development of a party system that is not only highly fractured at the national level but one that fails to create adequate incentives for cooperation between levels of government. Even if the Russian economy recovers in the next few years or so and even if reformers maintain their position in Moscow, an adversarial relationship will continue to exist between regional and national governments, a relationship that will merely move the state from one crises to the next. We conclude with several suggestions for political reform, including simultaneous election of Duma deputies and president, increased use of elections as a method for filling regional and local public offices, and alternative methods for forming the Federation Council. However, we remain pessimistic about the prospects for a well-functioning federal system since most if not all of these suggestions are unlikely to be pursued as political reforms.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
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Additional Information:This paper was prepared for delivery at the Princeton Conference on "Hyper-Federalism: Russian Decentralization in Comparative Perspective," February 9-10, 1996, Princeton University, the Stanford University Workshop on "Exploring the Relationship Between Elections and Federalism in Russia," February 21, 1996, Stanford, California, and the University of Leeds "Symposium on Electoral Reform in Russia," London, March 24-31, 1996. Support for this research was provided by the National Council for Soviet and East European Research. Published as Ordeshook, Peter C. "Russia's party system: Is Russian federalism viable?." Post-Soviet Affairs 12, no. 3 (1996): 195-217.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
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National Council for Soviet and East European ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:962
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170816-153137919
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80513
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:17 Aug 2017 17:07
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:31

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