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Published August 23, 2017 | Submitted
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Institutions and Incentives: The Prospects for Russian Democracy


The lament that Russia is at the mercy of powerful personalities contesting for the reigns of power may be accurate. But here we want to find a way out of this condition. We begin by noting that more than mere lip-service needs to be paid to the idea that the two dimensions of reform - economic and political - are fused and that one cannot be attacked without attacking the other. Just as economic policies are manipulated in accordance with the principle that socially desirable outcomes cannot be willed or wished into existence - they derive, if at all, from the ways in which government action and the structure of economic institutions channel individual self-interest - the same must be true of political reform. Tracing the interests established by Russia's current constitutional order with respect to representation and elections, though, we conclude that that order and those interests almost certainly preordain executive-legislative conflict. Focusing, then, on those things that can be changed without constitutional amendment, we suggest a set of electoral reforms that promise to alleviate at least this problem and that allow for presidential leadership rather than the mere administration of authority and power.

Additional Information

Preliminary versions of this paper were presented at the Conference on Economic Reform, Moscow, May 1994, sponsored by the University of Maryland's IRIS Center in collaboration with the Institute for Economic Transition, and at the Summer Training Workshop, Toronto, June 1994, sponsored by the Social Science Research Council and the Center for Russian and East European Studies of the University of Toronto.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023