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Politics in Russia Political Parties and Elections.

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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 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


14 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

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

16 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

17 Power transition in State Duma tried to impeach President Yeltsin but didn’t gather enough votes Yeltsin announced that he would resign Presidential election Vladimir Putin



20 “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


22 Social bases of party support

23 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%)


25 1999 State Duma election



28 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

29 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.


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