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The Russian Parliament

The Russian Parliament: Institutional Evolution in a Transitional Regime, 1989-1999

Thomas F. Remington
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Russian Parliament
    Book Description:

    From the first free elections in post-Soviet Russia in 1989 to the end of the Yeltsin period in 1999, Russia's parliament was the site of great political upheavals. Conflicts between communists and reformers generated constant turmoil, and twice parliamentary institutions broke down in violence. This book offers the first full account of the inaugural decade of Russia's parliament. Thomas F. Remington, a leading scholar of Russian politics, describes in unique detail the Gorbachev-era parliament of 1989-91, the interim parliament of 1990-93, and the current Federal Assembly.Focusing particularly on the emergence of parliamentary parties and bicameralism, Remington explores how the organization of the Russian parliament changed, why some changes failed while others were accepted, and why the current parliament is more effective and viable than its predecessors. He links the story of parliamentary evolution in Russia to contemporary theories of institutional development and concludes that, notwithstanding the turbulence of Russia's first postcommunist decade, parliament has served as a stabilizing influence in Russian political life.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12976-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 Political Representation and Parliamentary Power
    (pp. 1-19)

    In this book I shall explore the emergence of Russia’s parliament between 1989 and 1999. This period can be divided into three phases, the first two of which overlap. The first phase began in 1989 with the establishment of a new legislative structure designed by Gorbachev to replace the old Supreme Soviet. This stage ended with the August 1991 coup and the subsequent breakup of the Soviet Union. The short life of the legislature of the Russian Republic (Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, or RSFSR) in the 1990–93 period is the second phase. This structure, formed one year after...

  6. Chapter 2 Gorbachev’s Constitutional Reforms
    (pp. 20-46)

    The end of communist rule in the Soviet Union had profound consequences, for Soviet citizens as for the rest of the world. One of its most extraordinary results was the breakup of the union state itself.

    The sudden disappearance of one of the world’s mightiest political structures has been as difficult to explain as it was to foresee; although neither Gorbachev nor Yeltsin wanted to bring about the complete collapse of the union, their struggle brought about an outcome neither desired or intended.¹ The result of their inability to coordinate on a strategy for preserving the union may be compared...

  7. Chapter 3 Organizing the New USSR Parliament
    (pp. 47-83)

    In chapter 2 the decisions over parliament’s structure and powers were treated as the products of Gorbachev’s political strategies. It was argued that although he had the power to create the congress and Supreme Soviet, and later the presidency, he could not use these new institutions to solve the country’s crises because he could not build a coalition of political elites in support of a policy position that would simultaneously advance market reform and hold the union together. Both his new parliament and the new presidency were marginalized, unable to reverse the polarization of political camps at the center or...

  8. Chapter 4 The Power Game in Russia, 1990–1993
    (pp. 84-113)

    In chapter 2, I argued that Gorbachev’s innovations in the organization of legislative and executive power were undertaken for strategic purposes, but that they failed to solve the policy and political problems he faced and instead led to some unexpected and unwanted outcomes. Within the parliament, as shown in chapter 3, power was highly centralized. Central control was wielded through the chairmanship, Presidium, and apparat, which enabled parliament’s leadership to frame alternatives that could command majority support. The leadership adjusted parliamentary rules and practices to satisfy the demands of organized groups of deputies for participatory rights, and ideological and interest...

  9. Chapter 5 Deputies and Lawmaking in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet
    (pp. 114-149)

    As Yeltsin and Gorbachev, and then Yeltsin and Khasbulatov, battled over the distribution of constitutional powers, their choices affected parliamentary operations; in particular, the deputies elected to the new Russian parliament devised rules and procedures for their legislative activity reflecting the changing constitutional landscape. In this chapter I will focus on four features of parliamentary organization—deputies’ mandates and their parliamentary rights and obligations; committees and the legislative process; the Presidium’s powers of governance; and the emergence of deputy groups and factions—and how deputies used these institutions to achieve their political and legislative ends.

    The new Russian parliament closely...

  10. Chapter 6 Framing a New Constitution
    (pp. 150-175)

    The innovations to the USSR constitution during 1989–91 and to that of the RSFSR during 1990–93 took the form of amendments and accompanying legislation, but they did not involve the adoption of a new, fully consistent constitution. Within both the USSR and RSFSR parliaments, rules changes that recognized procedural rights for political factions represented a relaxation of the CPSU’s former monopoly on power, but there were no corresponding innovations in the relations or powers of the two chambers of the Supreme Soviet: bicameralism remained entirely formal.

    The confrontation between Yeltsin and his parliamentary opposition over the proper balance...

  11. Chapter 7 Organizing the Federal Assembly
    (pp. 176-231)

    The general outlines of the Federal Assembly’s structure were determined by the constitution and the electoral law. It fell to the deputies elected in December 1993 to determine specific rules and procedures to govern each chamber. The two chambers organized themselves very differently, reflecting their different constitutional status and electoral bases. The Duma chose a system of party-based power sharing, while the Federation Council preferred a simplified system of chairman and committee chairs. In devising these arrangements the deputies drew on their experience with similar models developed in the predecessor union and Russian Supreme Soviets. Each chamber’s organizational arrangements were...

  12. Chapter 8: Does Parliament Matter?
    (pp. 232-244)

    At the end of the 1990s, Russia’s parliament is an altogether different creature from its transitional predecessors, let alone the Stalinist Supreme Soviet that they were based on. It is structurally flatter—less centralized—and politically far more important than they were. Party leaders and regional officials have gained formal rights of representation at the expense of the former centralized structures of Presidium, staff, and chairman. Deputies are confronted with a heavier burden of choice than their predecessors, but they also have more effective means for autonomous participation in the legislative process, for generating and weighing alternatives, and for forming...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 245-276)
  14. Index
    (pp. 277-288)