Executive Power and Soviet Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Soviet State

By Eugene Huskey | Go to book overview

parliamentary systems, relied on a majority in parliament to sustain most of its proposals. It also relied on a fifth column within the parliament, the presidium of the Supreme Soviet, headed by Anatolii Lukianov, to serve as a kind of institutional whip for the executive leadership. But some policies and personnel did not receive the support of parliament. Moreover, the mere use of parliamentary prerogatives so long ignored heightened the expectations in Government, in society, and in parliament itself that the executive would be, and should be, accountable to the legislature. 77

The appearance in 1990 of a new executive institution, the presidency, dashed these expectations by reclaiming for the president much of the power that had flowed to the parliament from party and Government in 1989, most notably in the areas of lawmaking and Government oversight. In assuming the presidency, Gorbachev appeared to be less troubled by the realignment of executive- legislative relations than by the inability and/or unwillingness of the legislature to bring under control independent-minded ministries and republics. 78 Originally frustrated with the Communist Party as a vehicle of reform, Gorbachev abandoned the parliament as well in favor of the presidency, an instrument of rule that he believed would be at once more responsive and powerful. 79 But paradoxically it was the very efficiency of presidential rule in undermining the pillars of the old order--the Communist Party and Jacobin politics--that encouraged the coup against President Gorbachev in August 1991. The failure of that coup swept away the structures of central authority and opened a new era in executive-legislative relations, this time in the successor states of the USSR.


Notes

This is an updated and slightly revised version of "Legislative-Executive Relations in the New Soviet Political Order," Perestroika-Era Politics: The New Soviet Legislature and Gorbachev's Political Reforms, ed. Robert Huber and Donald Kelley ( Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1991), pp. 153-173.

1.
Novosti (Russian Television Channel One), 17 March 1992, 18:05 GMT.
2.
Polls indicated that popular support for representative institutions in Russia and the Soviet Union was limited. For example, a survey of 1600 Muscovites in late October 1991 found that only 28 percent supported the retention of an elected city council. "Moskovskie oprosy," Rossiia, 6-12 November 1991, p. 1.
3.
The rise of modern, disciplined parties has of course moderated this tension in political systems that have strong parliamentary majorities.
4.
V. Lenin, The Stale and Revolution ( New York: International Publishers, 1932), pp. 35-44.

-98-

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Executive Power and Soviet Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Soviet State
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xiii
  • The State in Imperial Russia and the Ussr 1
  • 1: The Government in the Soviet Political System 3
  • 2: Party-State Relations 49
  • 3: Executive-Legislative Relations 83
  • Notes 98
  • 4: The Rise of Presidential Power Under Gorbachev 106
  • The State and the Economy 127
  • 5: The Ministry of Finance 129
  • 6: The Industrial Ministries 143
  • 7: The Agricultural Ministries 161
  • The State and Security 179
  • 8: The Ministry of Defense 181
  • 9: The Ministry of Internal Affairs 202
  • 10: The Administration of Justice: Courts, Procuracy, and Ministry of Justice 221
  • The State and the Future 247
  • 11: The Rebirth of the Russian State 249
  • Index 271
  • Contributors 281
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