Pols241 week11 lec 2 nov.19
o Begs a number of questions
1) is it a democracy?
If it is not how far away is it from one?
2) does democracy need institutions of a democratic culture?
3) does democracy need to look like liberal democracy?
o 2 arguments
1) Russia is not a democracy
The party associated with Putin, Edinya Rossiya has dominated for 12
years. Russia has essentially been a one party state.
Putin has been head of government since 2000 (wins elections with
more than 50% of votes)
o He is adored, worshipped and feared
o A cult of personality is developing around him
o Assumption among Russians is that Putin knows best
He is portrayed as a champion
Has created around him a circle of individuals that
represent the state apparatus
Seen to represent the sovereignty of the
o Has used rule by decree
o Has used security apparatus to spy on political opponents to
discredit them and attack political opponents through
propaganda, nationalism and anti-politics.
o 1) a disdain for politicians (favor strong leadership of Putin)
Putin has gone after oligarchs( wield a lot of economic
power and have criticized Putin’s authoritarian style)
Very few support liberal, adversarial system of
Putin promised to limit corruption but it continues to run rampant= sign
not a functional democracy. Thus it failed to be like us which disqualifies
2) Russia is a democracy
On the path to its own model of democracy
True, it doesn’t have a democratic tradition but other countries didn’t
Most important element in a democracy is to have a functional state
that can impose its authority.
o 1990s: Russia did not have this Everyone employed by state were not paid= everyone
doing what they wanted, ie. Stealing stuff.
Thus, the state was essentially in shambles/bankrupt= it
was questioned and denied by its citizens in various
Putin has restored the authority of the state
o People are getting paid
o Government can pay its bills
o Law exists (people are constrained by
1) has normal elections since 1993
o No massive scale fraud
o If there was fraud it doesn’t affect the election results
o 8 parties made it into the Duma
o Voter turnout has been between 60-70% (good public/popular
participation)- most vote for centre parties like edinya rossiya
o Congealed party scene ( parties come back over and over again
to dominate parliament.
2) Coalitions are formed on basis of convenience and strategic advances
in the duma.
o One of the hallmarks of democracy in Europe
o Different parties will get together to vote together on certain
3) Politicians are career oriented
o Very few don’t want