POL354 Lecture 16 – National Institutions/Federalism
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Case study that looks at the criteria for democratization. Look at the legacy of the Soviets,
shortcomings, and limits.
Read sample essay.
Construct test answers in the same way as the essay.
Recall The soviet national institutions were inadequate. State institutions were largely a
façade that provided legitimacy for decisions that were made else where.
We saw how the struggle between Yelstin and the CPD’s evolved. Yelstin introduces his own
Structural limits have been further constrained by a number of political weaknesses in the
Duma doesn’t have the type of party system essential for a legislative body. Under
Yelstin what emerged was a highly fragmented party system in which the extreme
right and extreme left dominated the system but did not achieve sufficient voting
power to establish themselves as any type of party within the system
Under Putin there is a dramatic change to the party system. Single party dominant
system emerges. Putin party has taken control of the legislative assembly. Even the
parties not under his direct control are either under his indirect control of created
The duma, at best, under Yelstin may be seen as an irritant to the president but
certainly not an organized opposition. Under Putin the duma had become essentially
a puppet institution one which does the bidding of the president.
The second component of a set of national institutions for democratization is a set of
There were two possible models for executive leadership (1) Parliamentary in which the
executive sits in parliament and is responsible to parliament or (2) Presidential where the
president is elected popularly and the president elects its own cabinet.
The executive has to be chosen freely and fairly
The argument made by Yelstin, and supported by many, was that a strong presidency was
an important feature to democratization. The country needed an executive leadership that
could represent the entire nation and embody its interests in a single office. A leader who is
also limited as the result as a fixed and stable term in office. This type of transformative (?)
leadership would be the most effective at leading the nation through shock therapy.
The Soviet heritage on this was not particularly optimistic. Non-transparent and
unaccountable. This was also true of Imperial Russia. The strong executive leadership
embodied in the Soviet Union did not provide the policies and decisions that gave direction
to the country. Accountable to no one other than they closed group of individuals who had
appointed him. Gorbachev comes to power under these circumstances, but as he introduces his reforms and
as they become more radical, he finds that there is enormous resistance to and opposition
to the reforms. Much of this opposition comes from within the party itself. Consequently
Gorbachev shifts his power base, remains general secretary of the party, but assumes the
position of president of the state and undertakes a set of amendments in the constitutions
that afford the president more executive power, especially with regard to economic
Gorbachev’s authority was completely undermined in 1991 with the temporary coup.
It is this experience that Yelstin has and these are the reasons that he is in favour of a strong
presidential regime. It is in his own interest.
In the 1993 constitut