Comparative Politics Today Notes Chapter 12.doc

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Political Science
Kaare Strom

Comparative Politics Today Notes Chapter 12 Ensuring Continuity of Power Dmitirii Anatolevich Medvedev he took oath in office as president of the Russian Federation on May 7 2008 This signaled that the leadership was united around the choice of the new president There are usually disruptions of power from one president to the next from contending political forcesMedvedevs succession was smooth but not democratic despite there being an election because Medvedev had control of the election process and all those involved Medvedev named Putin the head of government after becoming president which helped avoid a division amongst the elite and helped promote continuity in policy Even though a president can only serve two terms this move didnt violate the constitution The new tandem leadership arrangement created some uncertainty in elite circles about who was really in charge He was seen as continuing Putins policies and Putin in the 2012 election defeated Medvedev due to their growing competition while he was PMThe peculiarity of the situation arises from the gap between the formal constitutional rules and the informal understandings that guide the exercise of power Russias constitution provides both for a directly elected president who is head of state and a prime minister who heads the government The PM is chosen by the president but still must get full confidence of parliament Russia hasnt had successful experience with the sharing of power between two leaders The president remains dominant while the PM manages the economy and carries out the presidents demands Putin had power over policy even while being the PM while Medvedev has tried to consolidate his power A division between the two would mean a split of the political elite and a destabilization of the regime Current Policy Challenges Russias economy crashed in 2008 when Medvedev came to powerThey had a tough transition from socialist economic system to a marketoriented systemGlobalization had a steep downside in light of the financial crash of 2008Major world exporter of oil and gas They made a lot of money from it until 2008People fled the country Consumer demand dropped hurting Russias manufacturers Russias economy contracted more than any other major powerRussia dipped into their savings to save banks and give welfare and it was spared the massive financial instability that broke out in other heavily indebted states Medvedev has said that Russia shouldnt rely on exports of natural resources to maintain its growth and instead must modernize and diversify its economy Major reform requires an enormous and sustained exercise of power by the countrys political leaders to overcome the resistance of administrative and social groups to change People have typically done this by centralizing governmentThe Resource Curse where a govt relies on windfall for revenue making leaders avoid investing in the skills and knowledge of the population as a result of which the societies wind up with lower levels of economic and political development than in resourcepoor countries Less incentive for market competition Medvedev condones current economic structureRussias population has been shrinking due to the excess of deaths over births and the economy is increasingly dependent on migrant labor from China Central Asia elsewhereA lot of inequality here and its on the rise with differences in development in the nationRussian leaders see the problem but cannot fix it especially for three in particular the resistance by state officials to any reforms that weaken their power the vast physical size of the country which impedes efforts to forge coalitions in society around broad common interests in support of significant reform and the legacy of the Soviet development modelThese factors stack against modernizing and democratizing reformsHistorical Legacies the Tsarist Regime For nearly a thousand years the Russian state was autocratic ruled by a hereditary monarch whose power was unlimited by any constitutional constraints It wasnt until the th20 century that something was remotely done The historical legacy of Russian statehood includes long strains of absolutism patrimonialism and Orthodox ChristianityAbsolutism the tsar aspired can wield absolute power over the subjects of the realmPatrimonialism the idea that the ruler treated his realm as property that he owned rather than as a society with its own legitimate rights and interests Still influences rulers todayRussian Orthodox Church this ties itself closely to the state considering itself a national church It has exhorted its adherents to show loyalty and obedience to the state in worldly matters in return for which it enjoyed a monopoly of spiritual power as Russias state church This still influences rulers decisions and makes people identify their state with a higher spiritual mission Absolutism patrimonialism and orthodoxy have been recurring elements of Russian political culture But other modern influences have done so as well Modernizing rulers had a powerful impact on Russia bringing it closer to West European models The states role in controlling and mobilizing society rose with the need to govern a vast territory For most of history Russias imperial reach exceeded its actual graspCompared with other major powers of Europe Russias economic institutions remained thbackward well into the 20 century But its trajectory was toward a modern industry Tsarists fell in 1917The social basis for democracy was too weak in 1917 allowing communists to take overTsarists treated law as an instrument of rule rather than a source of authority They appealed to tradition empire and divine right There was a major gap between the rulers and the rules but it was reduced by great national trials such as WWIIThe Communist Revolution and the Soviet Order Tsarists couldnt satisfy a growing mobilized Russia so the communists took over in 1917 They wanted to spread socialism here where the govt owned everything Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was the leader of the Russian Communist Party and the first head of the Soviet Russian govt Under his rule the Commies controlled all levels of govt The top final power to decided policy rested in the Commie Party of the Soviet UnionJoseph Stalin he took power after Lenin died in 1924 Power was even more centralized under him Built totalitarian govt on Russias industrial and military might The institutions of rule Stalin left behind after his death ultimately hurt Russia which included personalistic rule insecurity for rulers and ruled alike heavy reliance on the street police and a militarized economy It couldnt be changed without removing communism Stalins successor Nikita Krushchev loosened some of the harsh controls
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