Russian Politics and Society

By Richard Sakwa | Go to book overview

8Party development

The stability of any constitution depends not so much on its form as on the social and economic forces that stand behind and support it; and if the form of the constitution corresponds to the balance of those forces, their support maintains it unchanged.

(James Bryce) 1

Political parties play a fundamental role in modern representative democracy. 2 They connect civil and political society, advance the perceived interests of individuals, groups and social strata while aiming consciously to develop these constituencies, and provide a link between civil society and the state, espousing the claims of the one and enforcing the rules of the other. 3 In post-communist Russia parties only marginally fulfilled these functions. The relative independence of government from both parliamentary oversight and party control, and the emergence of a powerful presidential system based on the apparatus of the state, marginalised the political role of organised social interests. Trapped between an illformed state system and a rudimentary civil society, the nascent representative system was unable to assert itself against other political actors like the military and security apparatus, oligarchical financial and commercial interests, regional governors, and the government itself. Rather than parties generating the political dynamism that formed government, the regime itself tended to take the initiative in party formation. This chapter will examine the tortuous process of party development in Russia, noting that a multiplicity of parties does not of itself demonstrate the existence of a functioning party system. As we have seen in Chapter 7, Russia's electoral politics focused on parties, and they then provided structure to the politics of the Duma itself (Chapter 6). Despite all the odds, parties have become an essential element in the Russian political scene. This chapter will trace this development and serve as a conclusion to this part of the book.


Stages of party development

Party development in Russia evolved through four main phases. The first was the insurgency stage of movements and neformaly (informal) organisations accompanying the dissolution of the power of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) during perestroika (1985-91). The second stage was the period of constitutional crisis between August 1991 and October 1993, when the presidency and parliament struggled for supremacy. In the absence of elections and the fight for

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Russian Politics and Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures ix
  • Tables x
  • Preface to the Third Edition xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Note on Style, Spelling and Transliteration xiv
  • Glossary of Acronyms, Acrostics and Terms xv
  • Part I - The Fall of Communism and the Rebirth of Russia 1
  • 1: Soviet Communism and Its Dissolution 3
  • 2: The Disintegration of the Ussr 27
  • Part II - Political Institutions and Processes 43
  • 3: The New Constitutional Order 45
  • 4: Law and Society 72
  • 5: The Executive 98
  • 6: The Legislature 125
  • 7: Electoral Politics 140
  • 8: Party Development 172
  • Part III - Federalism, Regionalism and Nationalism 201
  • 9: Federalism and the State 203
  • 10: Regional and Local Politics 224
  • 11: National Identity and State-Building 254
  • Part IV - Economy and Society 277
  • 12: Marketising the Economy 279
  • 13: Society and Social Movements 305
  • 14: Cultural Transformation 331
  • Part V - Foreign Policies 347
  • 15: Foreign Policy 349
  • 16: Commonwealth, Community and Fragmentation 375
  • 17: Defence and Security Policy 396
  • Part VI - Dilemmas of Democratisation 423
  • 18: Problems of Transition 425
  • 19: Pluralism, Elites, Regime and Leadership 445
  • 20: Democracy in Russia 463
  • Notes 475
  • Select Bibliography 524
  • Index 527
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