What are the democratic elements in Russia’s political system?

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union between 1989-1991, Russia emerged as a nominal democracy. Few expected Russia’s transition to democratic rule to be easy since the country lacked any democratic tradition. As expected, the transition has not been smooth and instead of the consolidation of democratic norms – such as the rule of law, Russia has seen the resurgence of its more traditional authoritarian forms of governance. However, it has not entirely moved back towards a full-fledged authoritarian regime. Relatively free elections do take place, Russians are free to travel and some opposition is allowed. This is has led political scientists to classify Russia as a hybrid regime. A hybrid regime is defined as containing elements of both democratic and authoritarian systems. In this short essay, my objective is to identify these contrasting elements. In the first paragraph, I specify the democratic elements that still exist in Russia and then in the second paragraph I elaborate on the more authoritarian elements that characterize the political system. Finally, I conclude by arguing that Russia is more _________ than _________.


Paragraph 2: What are the democratic elements in Russia’s political system?


Paragraph 3: What are the authoritarian elements in Russia’s political system?


Paragraph 4: Conclusion (“Russia is more ___________ than ____________.”)


Both the textbook and the Diamond article assigned for this week are good preparatory materials for hybrid regimes. When you compose this essay, however, you will need to include specific examples from Russian politics. All of your examples should be cited, and they all should come from both of the readings attached here. There is no need to perform internet searches or to click through Wikipedia links. We want you to demonstrate that you can master the readings included here. Both of the attached readings are scholarly articles and are thus more difficult than news stories or pieces published for a general readership. The Hale article (which we have encountered before in the class) is not only telling you something about Russian politics, but it is also advancing a particular theory or argument concerning the characteristics of an “electoral patronal” system. Likewise, the Petrov, Lipman, and Hale article is proposing to analyze politics according to a trio of “dilemmas”. One of the challenges in preparing your essay will be to read both of these articles and sift out that which is relevant for the assignment from that which is not. You are not writing a summary or a review of the articles here; you are using these resources to answer a very specific question. Make sure to reference each of them.

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