Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Dustin James
Last updated: September 25, 2019
In 1991 a major milestone occurred in Russia, the Russianpeople showed strong support for a system that would elect a president and thuson June 12, 1991 an election for the first president of Russia was held. Thispresidential election system was seen by many as a step in the right directionfor Russia, many of its citizens felt that this would be a chance for theirvoices to finally be heard and change to come about. With promises of economicrecovery and leadership changes that would bring Russia up to par with otherEuropean countries, Russian politics were starting to walk into the positive onthe world stage. We will look at what the Super Presidential system iscomprised of, how the branches of government play a role in this new politicallandscape and if the new system that was created in 1991 is working in a stablemanner or merely a façade. While the Russian political system may still comeunder scrutiny, there is no denying that they continue to be a superpower onthe world stage and their actions affect more than just its citizens. Russia is governed by a superpresidential system, in which the president and his administration have controlover the majority of decisions that are being made.
There are still sign of ademocratic process in place, with different areas the oversee courts andparliaments, each with their own elections. This should not be confused withthe super president and his grasp of power, even with these other sanctionedbodies, the president reigns supreme and is seen as not contestable and oftenwill not have accountability enforced on him. While this governing system isthought to bring about efficient and stable government, which would in turnincrease economic and cultural growth, there are underlying issues that cancause this to not happen. First off is the candidates that would participate,this is usually a false start because there is not a call for legitimacy in theselection process. It lacks transparency and often the candidates are insidersof political factions, with no true background or merit to assume the role.This then leads to the next issue of the conflicting political landscapes andhow to gain control over they system. The election system can cause a viciouscycle of control as the super president must exert his power over opposingpolitical factions, which can come through force or with substantial economicpayoffs to gain alignment.
(Jenks, 2013). Most of these behind the scenesnegotiations to gain alignment are corrupt and not beneficial to the entiregovernment, and when things get bad revolts and riots are often used to showthe displeasure of those involved. While these dealing may be don’t quickly togain alignment, and bring some stability to the economy it often fails in thelong term as the chance for an economic collapse becomes greater.
Another keyfactor when looking at a super presidential system, is the willingness of thecurrent president to leave his position and pass it on. This sounds easier thanit is, for someone who once has all the power in the world, to just give it upis an arduous task. Not willing to pass the torch or fall out of the limelight,many presidents will try their hardest to stay in the position for as long aspossible, even to death if they can. Russia can certainly demonstrates many ofthese behaviors, and although it appears to be a stable working government,there are a lot of underlying issues that need to be worked on.
Looking at the overall structure ofthe executive branch, or currently as it’s known, “The World Revolves AroundVladimir Putin” (Jenks, 2013), we can see the power structure and mission thatthey set out to achieve. The executive branch is comprised of the president,prime minister and ministries. Looking at the power structure for Russia we cansee a classic waterfall structure, whereas whatever the president wants, thepresident gets.
The United Russia party has overwhelmingly won the electionssince they started and the group of people that have help the position havealways been related to each other in some shape or form. So needless to say, itis a rather inclusive and secluded group that runs the country, and once theyare elected in it is almost impossible to remove them by needing a 2/3 vote inthe Duma. The president can set policies, grant pardons, issue decrees anddirectives and all of these things happen without being challenged. (Helsi,2007, 140-141). The next person in the chain of command is the prime minister,which in itself is no big surprise, because they are named by the president.This position is relatively weak and seen as the enforcer of the Presidentsideologies. They can replace the president in a resignation or death scenario,but is mainly seen as a lackey to the president.
(Linn, 2016). The primeminister will give his thoughts to the president on ministry nominations, andthis may be one of his most influential roles. On this tier of the waterfall wesee the president still gets his way and the prime minister will enforce andtake action to make sure that this happens.
Lastly looking at the ministries,we seem the same affect continue to happen. With the nominations coming fromthe prime minister, we can expect that they will act in accordance with thepresident’s visions. The ministries over see everything from energy to sports,they are charged with implementing the policies assigned by the president. Withthis structure, the idea of a super presidential system is enforced, and no onechallenges up in fear that they will be removed from the inclusive group.
Withthe constant overlapping of nominations and placement of people in positions ofpower the executive branch has pretty much free reign to do what they want. Wewill look at the other branches of government and see how they interact in thisstructure. The next branch of government is thelegislative system, which is the federal assembly comprised of the federationcouncil and the Duma. While many might think, its great there is a legislativebranch to make sure the executive branch remains checked, that is not the case.The legislative branch is far weaker than that of the executive branch, and thepresident has the ability to pass decrees, without the consent or observance ofthe legislative branch.
The Duma cabinet in the legislative branch does haveslightly more power, they must give confirmation on the president’s nominationfor prime minister, but it would be foolish and not in their best interest tooppose the nomination continually because if they do it three times thepresident then has the power to do as he wants and appoint a prime minister,disperse the parliament and hold elections for new legislators. (Helsi, 2007,130-131). Once again, we see that the president gets what he wants, regardlessof the “supposed” checks and balances that are in place. The legislative bodywill carry out the orders of the president and will be aligned with the billsbeing passed onto the people of the country. Carrying over from the executivebranch we can see the continuation of the waterfall affect, and even though thelegislative branch should be a check on the executive branch, we see the superpresidential system working its way in, that the president still has the mostpower. (Linn, 2016).
The third branch that we will look atis the Judicial, which is comprised of the constitutional court. This is madeup of 19 judges, whom are appointed by the president, with the consent of thefederation council. When looking at the judicial branch we look at the peopleresponsible for arbitrating disputes between the legislative and executivebranch, rule on constitutional rights violations and be a part of impeachmentactions against the president. The judicial branch continues to go through alot of change, the original members had carried over for many years and thebeliefs of socialist law were prevailing over the actual facts and merit ofcases that were being looked at. This coupled with the low pay and appointmentof the judges, left the members open for bribes and coercion to gain alignmenton their rulings. Once again, we can fall under the impression that thejudicial branch is another check and balance in the overall system, but if youare starting to look at all of the appointments it’s easy to see that thepresident still has power in the judicial system.
Since the legislative andexecutive branch will seldom be at odds, the need for a mediator in this arenato me is more of a perceived benefit. I feel that the judicial branch has notbeen effective in their checks of the executive and legislative branches. Asoutlined above the judges appointed fall under the presidential sphere ofcontrol and thus makes them weak and lack confidence to actually challenge theitems being passed to them.
(Helsi, 2007, 140). Efforts are being made as timepasses to have them be a more integral checkpoint, but I am sure that it willstill be limited in the full reach of their power into the other two branches. Theeffects of the super presidential system can be seen in the judicial arena andgives us a better understanding of the waterfall affect and how it tricklesdown throughout all branches of the government, with the president holding themajority of the power. The federal assembly, while mainlyunder the control of the president, still does have some power. Key players inthis area are the lower house also known as the Duma, the upper house known asthe federation council and the Chairman of the Federation council.
(Roudik,2007). It is necessary to point out the importance of the chairman, as he isthe third most powerful person in the government behind the prime minister andthe president. If something were to happen to both of them the chairman wouldbecome the acting president of Russia. The Duma consists of 450 members whomare elected by the people through a national vote, there are thresholdsrequired for all parties’ participation.
(Helsi, 2007, 172-173). They electtheir own speaker and have immunity from criminal prosecution. The federalcouncil has two representatives from each of the 89 states. The state itselfappoints their council and they are not directly elected on by the people.
Thisbicameral legislature is thought to allow a better mix, of people appointedofficials and state appointed officials. In essence though, the branch stillreports upwards and the president can circumvent them. (Roudik, 2007).
Onceagain, we see the illusion of a fair and just legislative system. With the introduction of thepresidential election system into Russia, there were only three presidentssince 1991, Boris Yeltsin from 1991-99, Vladimir Putin from 1998-08, DmitryMedvedev from 2008-2012 and then again Vladimir Putin from 2012-current. Afterresigning from the communist party before running for the initial presidency,Yeltsin had the popular vote and was able to garner 60% of the people vote.Putin’s first introduction to the presidency was by appointment as actingpresident when Yeltsin resigned in December 1999, this also gave him a leg upand the popular vote when the official election came around. (Hesli, 2007,137).
Then Dmitry Medvedev came into power after Putin, but many people believethis was a power play on Putin’s part as he wanted to show that the system wasjust and fair, although Dmitry was president, Putin had direct influence andcontrol over decisions being made. The presidential election is regulated bythe election law and basic guarantees of electoral rights. The federationcouncil will call the election due, although the central election commissionwill call the presidential election. It happens on the second Sunday of themonth, and each faction in the Duma has the right to nominate a candidate.There is a minimum of 100k signatures required for a candidate to be picked upwith no parliamentary representation.
The president will serve for six years,which was changed under Dmitry’s rule, a little suspicious if you ask me, witha consecutive two term limit. If there is not a majority winner, the twocandidates with the most votes will have a second round. Even with change inpresidents, the super presidential system can be seen. Putin was Yeltsin’sprime minister and took over when Yeltsin retired, Dmitry was backed by Putinand thought to be only a place holder to show good faith on Putin’s behalf, andthen Putin was placed back in power. When replaced in power he now has a longerterm to serve, thanks to Dmitry and it also breaks up his two-consecutive yearlimitation, Putin does not want to lose the office of the presidency. In trying to identify if Russia’ssystem is stable there are a few key things to think about.
First is thedefinition of stability, is stable considered at a specific position in timerelative to the current processes and how things are working? Or is stabledefined as the ability of the system to work now and in the future, makingchanges to processes that are in place? My thoughts that are for right now, inits current state, Russia’s system is stable. I don’t foresee Russia’sgovernment collapsing overnight due to a large-scale revolution or upturn inthe power structure. There is a reason that the majority vote in all previouselections have been sided with the United Russia party and not the communistparty. (Jenks, 2013). Putin has a firm grasp on the government and controlsmost aspects of it directly and indirectly, he will ensure that it remainsintact and to his liking so long as he is in power.
Looking at the long termthough, I do not see Russia’s system as stable. The power grip that Putin hason the government has caused it to become a breeding ground for corruption anddeceit. Much like Russia’s history of Tsar’s, the government has moved awayfrom a supreme direct ruler that governed all and placed a “changed” systemwhere the leader would be checked along the way, but as we have explained abovethat is simply not the case. While we may live under a rock and think thatthere is no corruption in the U.S.
, that’s simply not the case, while we arestill stable to some degree, it is because there has been an establishedgovernment for some time. While Putin gives the illusion of a stablegovernment, I feel that there is an overly abundant amount of corruptionprevalent, this can be seen in some of the voting results, such as when Putinwon 92% from Chechnya in 2004. (Hesli, 2007, 140). With only three presidentshaving served since its inception, this should be expected, and it will taketime and different viewpoints to lessen its abundancy and become more stableoverall.