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Central governing incapacity and the weakness of political parties: Russian democracy in disarray.

More than ten years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia continues to enjoy flickering developmental success. Despite the declarations of Russia's second popularly elected president, Vladimir Putin, and his institutional innovations designed to strengthen the Russian state and push reform further, it is unclear that he yet possesses the institutional weaponry with which to accomplish these formidable tasks. Putin quickly diagnosed one of Russia's clear afflictions-a weakly integrated state-and he has put forward a variety of institutional cures. He has, however, so far ignored an important, but often overlooked factor that contributes to Russia's weak integration-the underdevelopment of its party system in the provinces.

The article is divided into four sections. Part one briefly discusses Putin's attempts to reintegrate the Russian state. This section makes a case for the importance of political parties as sources of political integration and central-state capacity to exert its authority beyond the Kremlin. Part two presents empirical evidence showing the degree to which the Russian state is poorly integrated (as manifested by the center's faltering abilities to implement policy in the regions during the 1990s) and the corresponding weak penetration of Russian political parties into regional politics. Part three presents some competing explanations for party weakness in Russia and argues that emergent political and economic actors have little interest in building political parties and in increasing state integration and central-state capacity as a result. Part four discusses the implications of my analysis for the future of Russian political and economic development.


In a country encompassing 89 ethnically and economically diverse subnational units, and spanning eleven time zones, Russian rulers have historically faced unique challenges in governing the periphery. Indeed, difficulties in maintaining state integration and cohesion pervaded the Imperial, Soviet, and now post-Soviet political eras. Each regime has offered distinct solutions to this perennial problem. Under the tsars, royal emissaries or governors were appointed to represent the interests of St. Petersburg in the provinces. During the Soviet period, tight centralization of power was ensured by the top-down organization of the Communist party and by the overlapping institutions of the planned economy. In the post-Soviet era, Russia's rulers have sought to recast political and economic relationships between the central government and regional governments in a quasi-federal framework. Indeed, according to its 1993 constitution, the country is officially known as both "Russia" and the "Russian Federation." The co nstitution leaves somewhat unclear, however, the nature of Russian federal relations and the relative balance of power between center and peripheries.

In response, shortly after his inauguration in May 2000, President Putin announced his intention to strengthen the central-state and to curb growing regional government independence. He began on 11 May 2000 by issuing the first of a series of decrees demanding that regions bring their laws in line with federal practice. (2) He then issued a decree on 13 May 2000 reorganizing his presidential administration such that each of Russia's 89 regions would be included in seven federal districts (with between 12 and 15 regions per district). A presidential representative, appointed by the president himself, headed each federal district. The exact role and responsibilities of the new presidential representative was unclear in the original decree and is still relatively vaguely understood to include the coordination of the activities of federal branches of government located in their districts and ensuring that each region in the district brings its legislation into line with federal standards. More generally, however , the presidential representative (the third incarnation of this post since 1991) was to provide a counter weight to the growing powers of elected regional heads of executive (known as governors in oblasts and krais and presidents in republics). Putin expressly stated later in 2000, however, that the federal districts themselves were not to become governments per se (and may in fact only be temporary institutions). (3)

Putin's second major initiative entailed the legislative ability he gained to dismiss a regional governor or legislature that, after judicial review, was established to be in contempt of federal law or the constitution of the Russian Federation. On paper at least, this is a particularly potent political weapon to hurl at errant governors and legislatures. One would think that just the threat of dismissal would serve to stem non-compliant behavior. In practice, however, Putin has not used this tool to bring regional authorities into line. Despite the new presence of a new presidential representative, demands that offending laws be corrected, and the threat of dismissal from office should regional governments not comply, some non-compliance has persisted in provincial Russia. That is, despite Putin's strong-arm tactics to better integrate the Russian state and improve the central-state's capacity to implement its will outside Moscow, even these drastic measures have not fully attained this goal.

Given the still weak role played by the Russian court system, and the erratic organization of Russian federal bureaucracy, the apparent failure of Putin's centralizing tactics to strengthen the capacity of the central-state in the provinces is particularly problematic. (4)

Significantly, Putin, like Yeltsin before him has overlooked the role that political parties might play in state integration, and in increasing centralstate abilities to govern in the provinces by extension. The contribution that strong, well-institutionalized political parties within a competitive party system can make to effective governance in the developing world is striking. Parties not only lend structure and organization to the participation of emergent interests in politics, but they also affect the scope and pace by which participation expands. (5) Parties may help leaders to win elections, but more important to the developmental context, the organizational base that effective parties provide can help to convey electoral success into concrete policy accomplishments:

Within developing country democracies, where political communities are not well established, and where the state must perform important economic functions, the need for well-organized parties of competing orientations becomes that much greater. Well-organized parties are one of the few available political instruments that can both represent interests and concentrate them at the top, enabling party leaders, if they win majority support, to pursue development democratically. Grafting well-organized parties thus remains an important long-term goal of political engineering in the Third World. (6)

Furthermore, parties create important linkages between central and local political actors and societal interests. In large, federalizing states like Russia, it is also important to remember that parties are not only instruments of interest aggregation, they can also serve as important mechanisms for vertical integration of a polity. Parties also institutionalize elite networks and create a stable base of support for state policy.

Parties, therefore, broaden political loyalties. Samuel Huntington argues that "parties are the most fundamental aspect of political modernization because they institutionalize participation beyond the village." (7) Competitive political parties in democratic settings enhance the accountability of political actors to broader segments of society rather than to a privileged few. Through recruitment and training, then, parties can systematize and incorporate varied interests and new leaders into the polity.

Further, parties through programs define policy. Through organization, they assist in ensuring policy implementation by linking national and local political actors. William Riker noted that to lower the costs of ensuring policy implementation through bargaining with local leaders, for example, American presidents often try to create an ideology of programs through their parties as a cheaper means of buying support. While this does not altogether eliminate the high costs of bargaining with local politicians, it can at least lower those costs. (8) Thus, organizational control can reduce the costs of bargaining across territory. If a representative owes his or her electoral victory to the agency of the president: "presumably [s]he is willing to do what the President asks without much hesitation, thereby also eliminating the President's cost of bargaining." (9) As a result, Martin Shefter notes that parties are "institutions of representation, but also of control." (10) An important task of political parties in R ussia and elsewhere, then, is not just the aggregation of interests within society, and their representation in a national legislature, but also the enhancement of the stability and authority of a political system across territory.

Parties play an especially important role in enhancing central-state governing abilities in the periphery when few other institutional linkages (like strong bureaucracies) exist. Writing in the US context, Shefter has argued that "the combination of a weak bureaucracy and weak parties produces a regime of notables rather than of institutions." (11) In India, Atul Kohli found that when the Congress party started breaking down vertically, so did the central-state's abilities to govern effectively, resulting in a paradox of centralization of populistic power in the hands of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, but powerlessness in implementing tough policy decisions. (12) In federal systems and in particular in Russia, the geographically largest country in the world, political parties can perform an especially important integrative function.

I do not wish to make the claim that strong parties alone are a sufficient condition for a high degree of state capacity. (13) Obviously, other integrative institutions like a coherent bureaucracy and transparent divisions of authority between center and periphery are also crucial to state integration and state capacity. Nonetheless, drawing on the Russian experience, I argue that strong parties are at least a necessary condition for building state capacity; conversely, without strong political parties, a state is limited in what it can achieve.

This re-emphasis on the importance of political (as opposed to merely administrative) institutionalization and integration for successful democratic political development can be traced to Samuel Huntington's insistence, more than thirty years ago, on the need for strong political institutions in ensuring stability in transitional contexts. This led him to (in)famously declare that, whatever else they lacked, "the one thing Communist governments can do is to govern; they do provide effective authority. Their ideology furnishes a basis of legitimacy, and their party organization provides the institutional mechanism for mobilizing support and executing policy." (14) While this may have been true of the Soviet state under Stalin, and particularly while the country was industrializing, this came at great social cost. Further, in the late 1990s we know that Soviet institutions proved brittle and unable to adapt to changing societal needs. Eventually, the Communist Party and overly bureaucratized state unraveled.

If anything, the Soviet system was hyper-institutionalized. Its collapse indicates that Huntington's original thesis regarding the importance of political institutionalization should be amended. It is not simply political institutionalization per se that enhances governing capacities; rather, it is certain kinds of institutions, particularly ones that can capture, restrain, and incorporate emerging societal interests into the policy process that make a positive difference in integrating states and in governing in transitional contexts. In emerging electoral democracies, it is political parties in a competitive party system, operating at the nexus of the state and society that still must serve this function. So while Huntington's call for increased institutionalization remains valid, an important refinement to his theory is that certain kinds of institutions are more likely to enhance the abilities of states in developing countries than others. The essential remedy, then, for low central-state capacity to enh ance state integration and effective policy implementation between levels of government is a more effective competitive political party system. In Russia, however, political parties are not helping to integrate the polity, and their weakness helps to limit what policy the central-state can implement in the periphery.

While Russian mass society is not highly mobilized, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the onset of economic and political transition, new interests like regional political actors and powerful financial groups have entered the central-state's political arena. With weak political institutions, and particularly political parties, that might help to capture and restrain these emergent interests, the Russian state is poorly equipped to deal with even low levels of social mobilization or resistance to its developmental programs. The result now, and in the foreseeable future, is a pervasive inability to govern coherently.

The economic transition in particular has engendered new social forces that have not yet been incorporated into new institutional frameworks. These interests are untamed and directly challenge what the state can accomplish. There is, therefore, sometimes strong resistance to central-state policies by regional and local officials, and few institutional solutions to overcome this resistance. Strong, competitive political parties, as democratic institutions linking state and society, have not developed to capture these interests and tame their resistance to the center's will.

Moreover, political parties in transitional democracies can serve a variety of important functions. Parties are key institutions for building democracy and also key institutions in maintaining a cohesive state (democratic or not). Parties serve as conduits between the state and civil society, and also, therefore, between center and periphery. Competitive party systems can promote coherence in policy platforms across nation-states by injecting accountability into the electorate as well as between levels of government such that political actors of the same party in one level of government become dependent upon one another for reelection. Parties can encourage collective action and cooperation between central and local governments in that they integrate the polity as well as aggregate interests. They help "bury private or personal preferences for the sake of general social objectives." (15) In so doing, they help lend discipline and coherence to the task of governing and enhance the authority of the state in so ciety.


Despite the knowledge gained from other developmental contexts regarding the benefits of political institutionalization and integrative political parties, however, Russia now faces hauntingly familiar difficulties. Russian national parties have not meaningfully penetrated regional politics electorally, nor have they carried much influence in the concrete task of governing in the regions. In sum, the parties currently represented in the Russian State Duma, including even the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), have little ability to meaningfully influence politics outside of Moscow. More specifically, they have little input into the compositions of regional legislatures, nor can they ensure policy coherence and compliance to the party program among regional executives who have ostensibly run under the party's banner. (16)

Any regular reader of the New York Times or the Economist knows that central government in Russia had difficulty throughout the 1990s in implementing policies and enforcing its will. Beyond the sensational examples of ethnically non-Russian republics like Tatarstan and most notoriously, Chechnia, where the Russian Federation fought two wars in the 1990s (one still in process at the time of writing in 2002), few analysts recognize the extent to which Russia's fledgling democracy is in disarray due precisely to the central-state's inability to ensure reliably that regional governments comply with its policies and the constitution.

The Russian Federation is subdivided into a somewhat unwieldy three-tier system of 21 republics (each bearing the name of a dominant non-Russian ethnic group), 55 oblasts and krais (predominantly ethnically Russian), the special status cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg (treated functionally as oblasts), and 11 autonomies (each of which is also predominantly non-Russian in ethnic makeup). In addition to those sections of the 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation that outline the exclusive jurisdictional authority of the center and shared jurisdiction (articles 71 and 72 respectively), more than half of Russia's 89 constituent units have signed bilateral agreements and treaties with Moscow. (17) These are separate deals with the federal government that are tailored to the needs of each regional signatory such that they vary widely in terms of what is included. Some regions have negotiated individual taxation packages with the center, while others have gained additional rights over natural-resource extra ction and distribution. Although the treaty process is within Moscow's realm of influence, and is intended to provide some coherence and predictability to center-periphery relations, in fact central-state policy coherence is under daily threat from almost all subnational units of the federation, including from those regions that have signed power-sharing treaties with the center. (18)

Since the adoption of the constitution in 1993, there are abundant examples of regions legislating in direct opposition to federal law and the constitution, and of preempting federal authority. They run a gamut of regions and policy areas. (19) Indeed, a database of non-compliance culled from a Lexis Nexus search spanning January 1994 through December 1999 found that all but four regions of Russia (the Gorno-Altai Republic, Komi-Permiak Autonomous Okrug, Taimyr Autonomous Okrug, and Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug) have violated federal law or the constitution. By the middle of the decade, in 1996, the Ministry of Justice reported that of the 44,000 regional legal acts it reviewed, including gubernatorial orders, it found that "nearly half [that is almost 22,000] of them did not correspond with the Constitution of the Russian Federation." (20) In 1998, then Justice Minister Pavel Krashennikov announced that in an examination of 70,000 other regional acts by July of that year, approximately one-third contradi cted the constitution or federal law. (21) A year later in June 1999, the chair of the Russian Constitutional Court reported at an international conference that an additional 50,000 regional laws remained in violation of the laws of the Russian Federation by the estimates of the Ministry of Justice. (22) In early 2001, Putin continued to complain of non-compliant regional legislation. Some corrections to regional law since his initial set of decrees in May 2000 have themselves constituted constitutional violations. (23) Moreover, despite official proclamations of the success of Putin's attempted legislative reversals, "little has in fact changed on the ground in many regions." (24)

The areas in which there was the greatest degree of non-compliance include predominantly (although not exclusively) economic policy or policy with clear implications for the regional economy. Tax legislation and licensing are areas where regions frequently legislated in contradiction to federal law. Banking and financial policy are other common areas where transgressions were abundant. In addition, restructuring of judiciaries, a right that is exclusive to the federal government was a common violation of Article 71 of the constitution. Other common violations included the establishment of illegal tarriffs between regions that obsrtucted the free flow of goods across the country and limit the degree to which Russia could be considered a single economic expanse. (25) Still other regions introduced their own land codes in advance of a federal land code in 2002. An estimated 51 of 89 regions violated provisions of the law on local government such that some regional governors illegally appointed mayors of cities in their regions rather than holding elections for these posts. (26) Other regions claimed the right to ratify international treaties, and even to revise federal borders. (27)

In a host of regions, political leaders (including the mayor of Moscow) maintained restrictions on freedom of movement and choice of a place to live guaranteed by the Russian Constitution. Despite the fact that the Constitutional Court has ruled that such restrictions were clear violations of the Constitution, the residency permit system persists in many regions of Russia (including Moscow oblast and the city of Moscow, Adigea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachai-Cherkessia, Krasnodar, Stavropol, Voronezh, and Rostov oblasts). (28) In addition, the mayor of Moscow, Yurii Luzhkov, steadfastly refused to implement the federal government's housing policy. (29) Still other regions violated both the Constitution and Russian electoral law in maintaining immigration quotas, and or language and educational requirements and age quotas for prospective voters on their territories. (30)

Further, both the presidential administration and the Russian Ministry of Justice claimed in the late 1990s, that virtually all of the basic legal documents of republics and oblasts respectively (called constitutions in republics and regional charters in oblasts and kraia) violated articles 71 and 72 of the federal Constitution. (31) The constitutions and charters of some regions (e.g., Ingushetia, Kalmikia, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Tyva, Kabardino-Balkariia, and Irkutsk oblast and Khanti-Mansii autonomous okrug) clalmed the supremacy of their laws over federal law. (32) Others even foresaw the possibility of suspending federal law on the territory of the region if it contradicted the constitution or charter of the region (i.e., Sakha, Bashkortostan, Tyva, Komi, and Tatarstan) (33) Other violations embedded within regional charters and constitutions also commonly included unilateral declarations on the part of regions of ownership, use, and distribution of natural resources located on their territories.

Similarly, regions and republics frequently introduced unconstitutional laws regarding the administration and distribution of federal property located on their territories. Others introduced laws establishing financial, credit, and hard-currency regulations--a right reserved exclusively for the federal government in article 71. In mid-1998, the Justice Ministry again charged that almost one-third of existing tax and customs regulations in the regions were adopted in violation of federal legislation in these areas. (34) Finally, some regions even passed laws regarding the organization and activities of federal executive power (like branches of federal ministries) located on their territories and over whom they have no legaljurisdiction. (35)

It was to these rampant violations of the constitutionally established powers of the central-state that Vladimir Putin reacted so strongly upon assuming the Russian presidency in 2000. Despite his insistence that regions bring their laws into line with federal law and the Constitution, his establishment of more powerful federal representatives in seven newly established federal districts, and his new legislative weapon that enabled him to dismiss errant governors and legislators, reports persisted of non-compliance and defiance in the regions of Russia. The evidence also indicates that the central-state was not tolerating these transgressions of its authority merely to make the system function, however imperfectly. By carefully tracking and documenting violations through the Ministry of Justice, by challenging regional legislation in the courts, and finally by instituting administrative reforms in 2000, the central-state demonstrated its deep concern about the damage inflicted by persistent and pervasive regi onal non-compliance to its authority on overall state integration and central-state governing capacity.

While the center is not utterly powerless vis-a-vis Russia's regions, of course, in practice Moscow's ability to enforce its authority and implement its policies in the periphery is weak, especially relative to the huge developmental task it faces. Regional governments can and sometimes do simply take on policy responsibility and act autonomously (for better or worse), without any federally recognized legal authority to do so and, for the most part, with impunity. (36)


Despite Putin's attempts to recentralize and tighten the central-state's administrative controls over the provinces, he has largely ignored the contribution that a national political party system might play in better integrating the state. At the same time that central-state authority has weakened in the provinces, national political party penetration has remained correspondingly low.

If we discount the 1990 elections to the regional soviets because they occurred under a different national constitutional framework, there were really four major opportunities for parties competing in the 1993, 1995, and 1999 national elections to the State Duma, and the 1996 and 2000 Presidential elections to contest races in the provinces. These include the elections in 1993-1994 to the reformed regional legislatures (regional dumas or assemblies); the reelection of these bodies in 1995-1997 (they were originally elected for only a two-year period); the 1996-1997 and 1998-2001 elections for more regional governors in 44 regions. As a result, between 1993 and 2001 at the subnational level in Russia, there were well over 200 elections. (37) Hence, since the adoption of the Constitution in 1993, Russian political parties have had ongoing opportunities to affect electoral outcomes and, by extension, political practice in the provinces. Yet, with a few exceptions, they have had little political effect in practic e.

For example, in the 1993-1994 elections to regional legislatures, despite Moscow's attempts, "overall, Russia's political parties were weakly represented among the new deputy corps. According to Central Electoral Commission statistics, only 13.8 percent of newly elected deputies had designated a political affiliation." (38) The remainder (86.2 percent) preferred to run as independents. The low party penetration of the periphery in this electoral round is particularly striking given that parties had just fought national elections to the State Duma. Presumably, to the extent that they may have had provincial branches of their parties, these branches would have been able to turn their attention quickly to regional races. Yet this did not occur, largely because few parties in 1993 and 1994 could claim an organization of more than a handful of individuals in most of Russia's 89 territorial units.

One might be able to understand this, given the context in which the national and local parliamentary elections took place. In the wake of the October shelling of Parliament, President Boris Yeltsin had temporarily banned opposition parties and called snap elections for the new State Duma. Although the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) did field candidates in these elections in December 1993, other opposition organizations did not do so. It also was relatively difficult for these young and often poorly organized parties to field candidates in the regional legislative elections that followed.

Context, however, cannot really explain the continued low penetration of the periphery by Russian parties in subsequent elections to regional legislatures in 1995-1997. The Central Electoral Commission of the Russian Federation reports that of the 3,030 deputies elected in 71 regional legislatures between 1995 and 1997, only 336 deputies (or 10.1 percent) were elected from the largest twelve political parties in Russia. (39) This means that most of the deputies elected to regional legislatures were unaffiliated with any of the major political parties and ran as independents. About 10 percent ran as members of regionally based parties. (40) While the KPRF, Yabloko, and Our Home is Russia (NDR), three of the largest blocs elected to the national parliament in 1995, had at least some representation in a few regional legislatures, this amounted to at most two to ten deputies in legislatures containing an average total of 35 deputies each. (41) Central Electoral Commission statistics indicate, for example, that of the 3,030 deputies elected in total between 1995 and 1997, the KPRF backed 215, Our Home is Russia backed 10, and Yabloko backed 15. (42) Although the Communists could correctly claim to have the largest number of elected deputies in the regions, given that this constituted about 6 percent of the total number of elected deputies, it is difficult to argue that the KPRF maintained a powerful hold on politics in the periphery.

Subsequent elections to regional legislatures displayed a similar pattern. For example, of the seventeen legislative elections that took place (and for which reliable data were available) in 1998, the KPRF even appeared to have lost some support in its traditional strongholds, while other parties continued to win only a handful of seats in a handful of legislatures. (43)

Of particular note also, is the poor showing of national parties in the gubernatorial elections that took place in 73 regions of Russia between 1995 and 1997. It is possible that national parties failed to penetrate regional legislative elections because regional legislatures may not be considered a particularly big prize for Russian political parties with limited financial resources. That is, these bodies have little real power, so parties might reasonably not go to much trouble to expend scarce resources in electing their deputies. This, however, is not the case with the office of regional executive or governor. Faced with weak legislatures, governors (or regional heads of administration), especially since their popular elections by 1996, exercise significant authority over politics in their regions.

In light of this, we should expect that national political parties in Russia might devote considerable effort in electing their preferred candidates. Yet, even in elections where the stakes matter and the office up for grabs actually holds power, Russian national parties, regardless of political stripe, still fared poorly. (44) As a result, national parties are not an effective form of linkage between Moscow and the provinces.

For example, of the 153 "real candidates" in the 73 gubernatorial races that took place between 1995 and 1997, only one-third had a clear partisan affiliation. (45) Some candidates' affiliations were so indiscernible that the two major opposing ideological blocs in the elections-the pro-government bloc Our Home is Russia (NDR), backed by the Yeltsin administration and the KPRF's umbrella organization in the provinces, the Popular Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), both claimed victory in the elections. (46) This is a result of the fact that, in some instances, "the NPSR even supported the same candidate backed by the Yeltsin government." (47) In other cases, although a candidate may have run and won with an ostensibly Communist label, the presidential administration in Moscow declared the winner a moderate with whom they could work and so claimed the new governor as a win for their side anyway.

Indeed, one observer noted that the NPSR played little independent role in nominating (or financing) candidates, and played a "more limited role in extending endorsements to candidates already on the ballot." (48) Overall, the role of parties in these elections was limited--even the role of the Communist Party and its affiliated organizations. Despite the frequent claim that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is Russia's only truly national party, (49) of the 73 governors elected between 1995 and 1997, only 19 carried an unambiguously Communist orientation. (50)

Our Home is Russia and Yabloko fared even worse in this first major round of gubernatorial elections. This is despite the fact that Yabloko's leadership claimed to have pervasive grassroots organizations, (51) and Our Home is Russia was considered to serve as the party of power in both the center and periphery at the time. Significantly, in the 50 gubernatorial elections of 1996-1997, Yabloko ran only a handful of candidates and won only one vote." (52) Vladimir Zhirinovsky's misnamed Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, despite doing surprisingly well in elections to the State Duma in 1993 and 1995, also managed to win only one gubernatorial race (and even in this case, the governor later renounced his party affiliation).

Moreover, even in those instances where either the Yeltsin government or the opposition claimed victory, given that neither side provided anything but limited resources to candidates, and the NPSR in particular played such a small role in nominating candidates, "party association offered candidates a limited boost at best." As their subsequent actions have demonstrated, "none of the winners were likely to feel strong bonds of loyalty to either camp." (53)

Finally, in the gubernatorial elections that took place between 1998 and 2001, the pattern of candidates spurning party affiliation persisted. In the ten elections that took place in 1998, only in one (Smolensk) was the party affiliation of the winner obvious. The same was true of the seven gubernatorial elections held in 1999 where only one winning candidate declared a party affiliation (Communist). Analysis of the 44 gubernatorial elections that took place in 2000 supports previous trends. Frequently, both the prevailing party of power (in 2000 it was Unity) and the KPRF claimed victory in the same region due to the overlapping sponsorship of the winner of the election. Incumbency proved to be a far more useful tool for winning elections in the Russian provinces in 2000-2001 than did party affiliation, with an incumbency success rate of 65.4 percent. (54) Only 12 of 44 governors elected were clearly sponsored by the KPRF, while the Kremlin supported seven winners. Almost all of the remaining governors ran and won as independents. (55)

Interviews with representatives of Yabloko, NDR, the KPRF, and Russia's Democratic Choice (one of Russia's older political organizations) revealed that even beyond elections, Russian parties, regardless of political color, exercise relatively low levels of discipline over their existing regional organizations. While the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is thought to benefit electorally from its use of old CPSU networks in the provinces, close evaluation of the electoral results casts doubt on this claim. Even if the KPRF were to have a more pervasive party organization, it has trouble enforcing discipline on governors elected under its banner. Pragmatism trumps ideology: "one can be red, blue, green or white, but on the roadways one has to observe the rules of the road." (56) The architect of Yabloko's regional organization reported that "discipline is not an important issue for the party. Leaders simply leave when they disagree." (57) The director of the Center for Cadre Training of Our Home is Rus sia noted similarly that programmatic discipline was not a problem for her movement because "people leave when they disagree." (58) Significantly, although 38 governors attended the Our Home is Russia party conference in May 1997, (59) most later renounced their affiliation with the movement in the wake of Viktor Chernomyrdin's fall from power in March 1998. The movement itself was officially disbanded in February 2001.

Russian parties are caught in a rather vicious cycle of ineffectiveness. Because parties offer little in terms of support to candidates, and because they are not viewed as a vital vehicle for election in the provinces, party labels are easily exchanged and discarded by regional politicians: exit over loyalty. Even where candidates that national political organizations officially sponsored won elections, the national party organization exercised little influence on concrete political activity and outcomes at the local level. Some governors elected under the NPSR rubric also renounced their affiliations once in office. Russian analysts, observing this kind of pragmatic behavior on the part of regional politicians, have noted that the "political hue of a candidate is not as important to the center as long as he ensures the functioning of the vertical hierarchy of power." (60) But in the absence of parties and other institutions firmly linking center and periphery in Russia, and in light of the startling frequen cy with which regional politicians flouted federal law and the constitution through the first decade of Russia's transition from communism, it is unclear how exactly such a hierarchy would function or even whether it existed.

A survey of 58 regional governors and 71 heads of regional legislatures support this perspective. Results indicated that self-declared party affiliation was a poor predictor of local political actors' behavior once in office. This was particularly true in areas of economic policy, such as the need to attract foreign aid, investment, and trade. Despite the Communist affiliations of some respondents, for example, they tended to behave in much the same way in these policy areas as those respondents with more "liberal" party affiliations, like Yabloko or Our Home is Russia. (61)

To conclude this section, the fact that Russian national parties are electoral failures in the provinces is not news. However, the implications of this for the central-state's ability to penetrate the periphery and ensure at least minimal policy coherence have been under-emphasized and poorly understood. Russian political parties and the party system cannot perform a key integrative function that could contribute to central-state governing capacity. Indeed, preliminary evidence indicates that even where party affiliations exist, they are not much of a predictor of how a province is governed. Other systematic forms of linkage (like strong bureaucracies) between regional political actors, and governors in particular, and the central government are also lacking, making the weakness of parties in the regions all that much more problematic for Russian governance. Thus, the loyalty of regional leaders to the center, and the degree to which they are likely to comply with or ignore central policy initiatives, is fre quently in question and poses great difficulties for Russia's continued political and economic development programs.


Given that only a decade has passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many readers may reasonably wonder if it is not simply too early in the transition process to judge Russia's institutional development. Even so, in light of the number of subnational electoral opportunities parties have had, we should still expect to see some signs of party influence in regional politics at this stage.

There were (and continue to be) some considerable efforts at spreading party influence across Russia. Several organizations erected training centers in Moscow for local cadres, for example. (62) Nonetheless, most parties admit that they have little to no permanent institutional presence outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russian analysts have noted that typically the official representation of national political parties in the provinces amounts to a few individuals--little more than "two sisters and uncle Vanya." (63)

There are a number of reasons why Russian parties are likely to continue to be weak mechanisms of linkage between center and periphery. First, the legislative institutions that might support party growth are weak. That is, because legislatures in both the center and the periphery are weak constitutionally relative to executives, political parties in legislatures are not an accepted means of gaining real power in Russia. Thus, one form of institutional weakness feeds on the other. This, however, does not explain the failure of Russian political parties to penetrate regional executives that are powerful indeed.

A closely related explanation is the argument that party development shadows state structure. That is, Russian political parties are based on one personality and are Moscow-centric but remain weak in the provinces because the president dominates the central-state, and authority is only slowly beginning to devolve outside Moscow to regional leaders. (64) However, particularly since the 1996-1997 elections of regional governors, executive authority has been rapidly decentralizing. Party development remains focused on central institutions however, and is therefore lagging the state decentralization process.

A third, even more compelling, explanation regarding why parties remain persistently weak in both Moscow and the periphery, and thus fail to effectively link the state and society, is that the politically and economically powerful have no firm interest in party building. Indeed, one Russian political activist reported that "being a member of a party is bad for candidates everywhere." (65) President Yeltsin himself, of course, steadfastly refused to join or directly form any political organization in his more than eight years in office. His successor, Vladimir Putin, has also thus far shunned formal party membership. Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan argue that had Yeltsin joined a party in 1991 following his initial election as Russia's first president, and had he used the support he garnered from Democratic Russia to form a party, the state might not have been as weak as it is today. (66)

Both Yeltsin and Putin have claimed that their reasons for actively shunning party building were so that the president could remain "above politics." Analysts of political development argue that "Presidentialism, and strong semi-presidentialism, ... in the absence of a long historically structured party system do not encourage the formation of parties. Presidents like to be above party..." (67) This is because presidents in fledgling democracies prefer to govern unfettered by institutional oversight or control. In other developing contexts, leaders often avoid institution building because strong institutions impede the power of individual, personalistic rule over policy and politics. (68) Thus, powerful entrenched interests oppose party development and the limitations on personalistic rule that they would bring. The danger is an excessive reliance of the entire state on the power of a single individual, the president, and a collection of local notables, including regional governors, who tend to pursue privat e over public interests.

Related to this is the distinct possibility that there simply may not be enough interest in having a strong central-state, and therefore, little interest in promoting the development of political institutions that might support its construction. Indeed, preliminary evidence from some post-communist transitional contexts indicates that there are sometimes strong interests that might collude to keep the state weak. Those in control of financial resources

that might help with party building are not interested in constructing organizations that might enable the state to introduce curbs on their own avenues of direct influence and authority over regional and national political actors. (69)

In a very useful recent article, Joel Hellman argues that contrary to dominant perspectives in the political economy of transitions literature, opposition to continued reform in the post-communist world often comes not from the short-term losers in the reform process, but from short-term winners:

from enterprise insiders who have become new owners only to strip their firms' assets; from commercial bankers who have opposed macroeconomic stabilization to preserve their enormously profitable arbitrage opportunities in distorted financial markets; from local officials who have prevented market entry into their regions to protect their share of local monopoly rents; and from so-called mafiosi who have undermined the creation of a stable legal foundation for the market economy. (70)

Those who benefit most, then, from the initial phases of the economic transition prefer to freeze the progress of market construction at some partially transformed stage so as to maximize the benefits they accrue and rents they amass. These short-term winners have little interest in constructing political institutions that might strengthen the state or in any way regulate and restrict their activities or access to influence. By conscientiously ignoring the task of institution building, and especially by keeping political parties weak, short-term winners ensure that the broader spectrum of losers from the transition in society more generally have limited avenues through which to express their discontent. Thus, short-term winners can continue to extract rents and acquire property with the aid of political actors whose support they have effectively purchased and without fear of institutional oversight or public accountability.

The construction of competitive national political parties that more broadly incorporated winners and losers would work against these interests. As Hellman notes, "political inclusion can act as a restraint on winners, undermining their capacity to hold the economy in partial reform equilibrium." (71) Moreover, promoting strong, competitive parties that would broaden the accountability of political actors in the center and the periphery to wider societal interests is not likely to be a high priority for the newly emerging economic elite or for the protectors of older economic interests in Russia.

Initial evidence of the influence of regional economic interests on provincial politics comes from a close look at who sits in regional legislatures. The Central Electoral Commission reports that, "In practically all legislative organs of the subjects of the Federation it is possible to meet leaders of strong enterprises and commercial structures of the region. In the Republic of Sakha (Iakutia) it is the leaders of diamond and gold enterprises, in the Republics of Komi and Tatarstan and Tiumen and Sakhalin oblasts it is oil companies. In Cheliabinsk oblast it is metallurgical factories, and in Murmansk oblast, it is the Kol'skii Nuclear Power Station." Further, of the 2,777 "active" deputies elected between 1995 and 1997, approximately 35 percent (944) come from the "productive" (industrial) sphere and an additional 30 percent (850) come from the "non-productive" (commercial) sphere. (72) This results in the "strengthening of the influence of economic lobbyists on the economic policies of subjects of the Rus sian Federation. Aside from this is the threat of confrontation of the regional elite with the federal center in constructing the interests of the regions." (73)

At the same time, the parties that in Russia, organized as they are around particular personalities usually from Moscow, do not incorporate emergent economic interests in the regions. Because these interests often oppose any further incursion of these parties into regional politics, institutional linkages between center and periphery remain weak, and the central-state's ability to ensure minimal policy coherence in the provinces remains limited, even despite President Putin's strong-arm tactics.

In the absence of competitive political parties, with broad societal appeal, patron-client relationships dominate the landscape of Russian center-periphery relations. But even if some regional governors, for example, owe their election to the patronage and support of the president of Russia himself, in order to keep these governors supportive, the federal administration must continue to dole out favors at a time when it has few financial resources to offer. Further, in the absence of strong political parties, central political actors must compete for the loyalty of regional governors with local economic interests possessing rival political agendas and autonomous economic resources. Indeed, in the most recent round of gubernatorial elections in Russia, the degree to which regional (and sometimes national) business elites have become directly involved in regional politics--either running for office themselves or arranging to support the incumbent governor's campaign in exchange for preferential appointments to the governor's administration--is striking. (74) Even in the wake of Putin's centralizing reforms, clearly the office of governor is still viewed as valuable, in no small part because of its budget, tariff, licensing, and taxation powers that can be manipulated for or against businesses in any given region.

Further, and more damaging is the fact that even if the federal government could effectively buy off regional leaders strategically, rather than simply punishing them using Putin's new tools, patronage of this sort is a less predictable mode of linkage especially as the center runs out of money. Moreover, clientelism tends to subordinate public interest to private interests and results in limited and fleeting loyalties. It encourages further rent seeking and ensures continued corruption in government. It is, therefore, hardly a firm foundation on which to build a state capable of sustaining any degree of socioeconomic development. (75)


The arguments here demonstrate the enduring importance of strong, inclusive political institutions in development. The failure of political parties is an important cause of central-state incapacity, as indicated by widespread policy incoherence in the Russian periphery. This, in turn, has hampered the political and economic reform effort in Russia because too often the policies and promises of the central government were not transmitted beyond the Kremlin walls. The absence of a strong bureaucracy and an ineffective judicial system makes the absence of a competitive party system all that more problematic for Russia's development effort. It ensures that the center has no institutional mechanism by which it can reliably promote its authority and legitimacy in policymaking among regional political actors and society more generally.

The implications of this are troubling for Russia's future political and economic development. Without the development of strong, flexible institutions capable of linking various parts of the state and the state and society, President Putin's renewed calls for a strengthened Russian state will ultimately fail.

With respect to state integration, although Russia's survival as a nation-state is not presently in serious question, the implications of weak state-society relations are highly troublesome for the future of the Russian economic development effort. The weakness of parties as integrating institutions means that there will be continued instability in center-periphery relations and, therefore, ineffective governance of Russia. Bargaining costs will continue to be high for the center in its dealings with the periphery because parties are not viable means of reducing such costs. Provincial political loyalties to central political authority will be weak, fleeting, and highly personalistic. In this environment, the central-state will face continued difficulties in ensuring regional implementation of central policies.

Further, in the absence of well-institutionalized parties (and other institutions that might effectively link center and periphery), Russia is more likely to develop what William Riker termed a "peripheralized" federalism rather than a centralized federalism. That is, subnational leaders are "likely [to continue] to gain more influence over the affairs of the whole society than...the rulers of the federation." (76) Riker concluded that peripheralized federalisms: "with their tendency to minimize the role of rulers of the federation, with their tendency to permit the rulers of the constituent units to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the federal officials, and with their tendency to allow even those decisions originally intended for the rulers of the federation to revert to the rulers of the subordinate governments-can hardly be expected to provide effective government." (77)

Relatedly, with respect to political and economic development, the weakness of parties in the provinces will contribute to a continued inability to implement policy evenly across the Russian Federation. Low institutionalization of center-periphery linkages in Russia will perpetuate the vicious cycle that pervades other developmental contexts. In particular, without cohesive political parties, the tendency toward personalistic rule in both Moscow and the provinces "is difficult to translate ... into the political ability to accomplish policy goals. Policy failures, in turn, tend to undermine popular support. The strategies for winning power thus come to be even further removed from solving developmental problems." (78) That is, without strong parties in a competitive party system to support their electoral efforts and help implement policies, political leaders will tend to back away from making tough decisions that might improve Russia's growing, but still deeply troubled economy in order to win elections.

Finally, the comparative development literature indicates that the lack of a functioning national party system alongside a weak bureaucracy riddled with rent seeking and patronage will perpetuate an elite-dominated democracy. (79) A state dominated by local notables will become increasingly divorced from civil society. In the absence of national parties, in sum, private interests in both center and periphery will continue to trump public interests as leaders at all levels of government become "more keen on harvesting kickbacks and insider giveaways than on solving public problems." (80) The result for Russia in the near term is likely to be a chronic cycle of weak institutions as public officials lacking autonomy from emergent financial interests and, lacking the benefit of coherent, linking national institutions, continue to subordinate their public service role to exogenous interests. The state becomes weaker as a result, as it is hijacked for personal gain, In the absence of political institutionalization, therefore, low state capacity is pervasive.

This is a familiar story in the developing world. If comparative political development has anything to offer Russia's new leaders in the coming century, it is the recommendation that they transform rule by personalities into rule by institutions-including political parties-if economic growth and democracy are to gain an enduring foothold.

(1.) See, for example, Elazar's discussion of the attributes of a federation in Daniel J. Elazar, Exploring Federalism (Tuscaloosa. AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1987), especially pp. 22-23.

(2.) "Putin Cracks Down on Regional Laws," Russian Regional Report 5, 17 May 2000 (New York: East West Institute).

(3.) "Seven Presidential Representatives Have Little Interest in Judicial Reform," Russian Regional Report, Electronic version, 6 December 2000 (New York: East west Institute).

(4.) For more information on the weakness of the Russian courts, see the brief but informative report "Russia's Judicial System: A Long way to Go in Establishing Effective courts," Russian Regional Report 5, Electronic Version, 13 December 2000. For more on bureaucracies, see Kathryn Stoner-weiss, "Wither the Central State? The Regional Sources of Russia's Stalled Reforms," Princeton, mimeo, February 2001.

(5.) Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Preso, 1968), p. 401.

(6.) Atul Kohli, Democracy and Discontent: India's Growing Crisis of Governability (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 106.

(7.) Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, p. 36.

(8.) William Riker, Federalism: Origins, Operations, Significance (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1964), PP. 93-96.

(9.) Ibid., 96.

(10.) Martin Shefter, Political Parties and the State: The American Historical Experience (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 16.

(11.) Ibid., 18.

Many of the institutions sketched out in the constitution place Russia squarely in the category of federation. (1) For example, it possesses a bicameral legislature where the lower house is elected to represent the country as a whole and the upper house is occupied by two representatives from each of Russia's 89 constituent regions, irrespective of population size. Further, articles 71 and 72 of the constitution paint out what is to be exclusively federal jurisdiction and what is shared federal and provincial jurisdiction respectively. However, because the constitution did not set forth what rights were to be exclusively devoted to the purview of the provinces, the document falls short of establishing Russia as a truly federal state. From 1994 through 1998, 46 of Russia's 89 provinces sought to remedy this situation by negotiating separate bilateral treaties between themselves and the central-state (these are discussed in more detail below.) Despite these treaties and agreements, many of which are quite detai led in their divisions of responsibilities between the central government and particular regions of Russia, Russia's federal relations remained frequently non-transparent and therefore wildly unpredictable. In addition to the bilateral treaties negotiated with Moscow, throughout the 1990s regions increasingly grabbed de facto policymaking authority from the central-state. This ranged from outright non-compliance with federal law and article 71 of the constitution, to usurping the legislative authority of the federal government (that is, legislating in areas that are exclusively federal jurisdiction but where no federal legislation yet existed), to attempts to manipulate and in some cases even appoint and dismiss federal bureaucrats posted in the regions. (Section two provides more empirical detail regarding regional flouting of central authority.)

(12.) Atul Kohli, "Centralization and Powerlessness: India's Democracy in a Comparative Perspective," State Power and Social Forces: Domination ion and Transformation in the Third World, eds. Joel S. Midgal, Atul Kohli, and Vivienne Shu (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 105.

(13.) In the larger project of which this article is a part, I am also studying bureaucratic linkages between center and periphery in Russia, although I focus here primarily on political linkages.

(14.) Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, p. 8.

(15.) Ibid., 23.

(16.) The distinction between parties in elections and parties in government comes from Paul A. Beck and Frank J. Sorauf, Party Politics in America, 7th ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).

(17.) Andrei Zagorodnikov, "Kakaia federatsiia nam nuzhno?" Nezavisimaia gazeta, 9 October 1998, p. 8.

(18.) "Among Russian area specialists, there is sometimes the impression that only the 21 republics of the Federation regularly violate the constitution and federal law, but the evidence that follows should help to clear up this misperceptions.

(19.) For further examination of the extent to which de facto policy autonomy has fallen to Russia's 89 regions, see Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, "Central Weakness and Provincial Autonomy: Observations on the Devolution Process in Russia," Post-Soviet Affairs 15 (January 1999).

(20.) See the Izvestiia (4 November 1997) report as reproduced in the Institute for East-West Studies Russian Regional Report (vol. 2, No. 88, 6 November 1997).

(21.) "Press Conference with Justice Minister Pavel Krashenikov Official Kremlin International News Broadcast as printed in Lexis Nexus, 7 July 1998.

(22.) Natalya Penshina, "Presidential Rule Can Ensure Political Stability in Russia," ITAR-TASS, 21 June 1999.

(23.) Most notably, these are the new Tyvan and Bashkir constitutions. See, for example, "Procurator Protests New Bashkortostan constitution," Russian Regional Report 6, Electronic Version, 10 Jauary 2001 (New York: East west Institute) and, "Despite Moscow Plaudits, New Tyva constitution Favors Republican President," Russian Regional Report 5, Electronic Version, 13 December 2000 (New York: East-west Institute).

(24.) "Federal Trends," Russian Regional Investor 3, February 2001 (New York: East West Institute).

(25.) Izvestiia (November 4, 1997) as reported in the Institute for East-west Studies Russian Regional Report (Vol. 2, No, 38, 6 November 1997). See also Pavel Visotskii, "O konstitutsionnoi zakonnosti v Rossiskoi Federatsii," Chelovek i pravo 13 (November 1998): 2. The author is the First Deputy Head of the Department of Constitutional Law in the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.

(26.) "...While Administration Cracks Down on Other Regions," Institute for East West Studies, Russian Regional Report, 5 February 1998. The specific reference is to the practice of Novosibirsk's governor, Vitalii Mukha.

(27.) "Justice Ministry warns Regions That They are Not complying with Federal Legislation," Institute for East West Studies, Russian Regional Report, 6 March 1997.

(28.) Visotskii, "O konstitutsionnoi zakonnosti v Rossiskoi Federatsii," 2.

(29.) For more on both of these stories, see "Newly Elected Governors Grapple with Moscow, Regional Problems," Institute for East West Studies, Russian Regional Report, l5 January 1998. For more on Luzhkov's refusal to implement federal housing policy see "Moscow Mayor Spars with Boris Nemtsov Over Housing Reform," Insititule for East-West Studies, Russian Regional Report, 15 May 1997.

(30.) Visotskii, "O konstitutsionnoi zakonnosti v Rossiskoi Federatsii," 2.

(31.) Ibid., 2.

(32.) Ayder Muzhdabaev, "Demoralized Russia is covered with Sovereign Blemishes," Moskovskii Komsomolets, as reported in Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 3 March 1998.

(33.) Visotskii, "O konstitutaionnoi zakonnosti v Rossiskoi Federataii," 2.

(34.) BBC Monitoring, "Justice Minister criticizes regions for unlawful tax regulations," as reported by Interfax, 18 July 1998.

(35.) Visotskii, "O konstitutsionnoi zakonnosti v Rossiskoi Federatsii," 2.

(36.) Although thc Russian Procuracy has officially made 2000 claims against regions that have committed violations of the Constitution, the constitutional court has completed only 20 cases regarding regional violations of the constitution. See Visotskii, "O Konstitutionnoi zakonnosti v Rossiskoi Federalsii." This is also supported by author's interviews in the Constitutional Court's Center for Analysis of Constitutional Justice, 13 March 1999.

(37.) This figure does not include elections to municipal governments in which parties also could have participated.

(38.) Darrell Slider, "Elections to Russia's Regional Assemblies," Post-Soviet Affairs 12 (July-September 1996): 261.

(39.) Vybopry v zakonodatel'nie (predstavitel'nie) organi gosudarstvennoi vlasti sub'ektov rossiiskoi federatsii 1995-1997: elektoral'naia statistika, Moskva: Isdatel'stvo "Ves' Mir", 1998, p. 625 and p. 632.

(40.) This figure comes from my own analysis of the electoral statistics for each region of Russia published by the Central Electoral Commission of the Russian Federation in Vybopry v zakonodatel'nie (predstavitel'nie) organi gosudarstvennoi viasti sub 'ektov rossiiskoi federatsii 1995-1997: elektoral'naia statistika.

(41.) Interview of 26 January 1998 with Vladimir Akimov, Consultant to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation fraction in the Russian State Duma; Interview with Yelena Romanovna Tolgskaiya, Director of center for Training, Our Home is Russia, 21 January 1998; Interview with Aleksandr Vladimirovich Kuznetsov, member of the Yabloko fraction in the Russian State Duma, January 26, 1998. Interviews were conducted by Alexander Sokolowski in Moscow on behalf of the author. Quotations and citations are taken from transcribed audio tapes of the interviews.

(42.) Vybopry v zakonodatel'nie (predstavitel'nie) organi gosudarstvennoi vlasti sub'ektov rossiiskoi federatsii 1995-1997: elektoral'naia statistika, p. 635

(43.) See Nikolai Petrov, ed., Regioni Rossii v 1998: Ezhegodnoe Predlozhenie k Politichskomy al'manachy Rossii (Moscow: Carnegie Center, 1999), pp. 156-166.

(44.) See, for example, Marc Zlotnik, "Russia's Governors: All the President's Men?" Problems of Post-Communism 43 (1996): 26-34; Steven L. Solnick, "The 1996-97 Gubernatorial Elections in Russia: Outcomes and Implications," Post-Soviet Affairs 14 (January-March 1998) (page references are to mimeo); and Jeffrey W. Hahn, "Regional Elections and Political Stability in Russia," Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 38 (November 1997): 251-263.

(45.) Michael McFaul and Nikolai Petrov, "Russian Electoral Politics After Transition: Regional and National Assessments," Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 38 (November 1997): 533.

(46.) "All Sides Claim Victory in the 1996 Gubernatorial Elections," in the Institute for East-West Studies, Russian Regional Report, 8 January 1997.

(47.) McFaul and Petrov, "Russian Electoral Politics After Transition: Regional and National Assessments," 545.

(48.) Solnick, "The 1996-97 Gubernatorial Elections in Russia: Outcomes and Implications," 10.

(49.) Akimov, interview.

(50.) McFaul and Petrov, "Russian Electoral Politics After Transition: Regional and National Assessments," 533.

(51.) Interview with Viacheslav Viadimirovich Igrunov, vice Chairman of Yabloko and deputy in the Russian State Duma. The interview was conducted by Alexander Sokolowski in Moscow on behalf of the author on 26 January 1998. Quotations and citations are taken from transcribed audio tapes of the interview. Kuznetsov interview. Igrunov claimed that Yabloko has 72 regional organizations but that only 15-20 of them could be called active.

(52.) McFaul and Petrov, "Russian Electoral Politics After Transition: Regional and National Assessments," 542.

(53.) Solnick, "The 1996-97 Gubernatorial Elections in Russia: Outcomes and Implications," 18.

(54.) This figure comes from Rostislav Turovskii, "Itogi I uroki gubernatorskikh vyborov." Politica v regionakh; gubernatori I gruppi vlianiia (Moscow: Tsentr politicheskikh technologii, 2002), pp. 11 and 24.

(55.) See Julie S. Corwin. "Endnote: The Incumbency Advantage," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Russian Federation Report 3 (January 2001). For a fuller account of election results from 1993 through 2000, see Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, "The Limited Reach of Russia's Party System: Under-Institutionalization in Dual Tnansitions," Politics and Society 29 (September 2001): 385-414.

(56.) Akimov interview.

(57.) Igrunov, interview.

(58.) Tolgskaia, interview.

(59.) Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, vol. XLIX. no. 17, 1997, page 7.

(60.) "What's at Stake?" The Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 48 (1996): 4.

(61.) As reported by Deborah Javelin, "Does it Matter Who Governs? Political Parties and Leadership Behavior in Russia's Regions," (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 1998).

(62.) Interviews with Agrunov, Kuznetsov, and Tolgskaia.

(63.) Quoted in Vladimir Gel'man and Grigorii Golosov, "Regional Party System Formation in Russia: The Deviant case of Sverdlovsk Oblast," Party Politics in Post-Communist Russia, ed. John Lowenhardt (Portland: Cass Publishers, 1998), p. 33.

(64.) Steven Fish, "The Advent of Multi-Partism in Russia, 1993-1995," Past-Soviet Affairs 11 (October/December 1995): 358-359.

(65.) Interview with Mikhail Yakovlevitch Schneyder, Assistant to the Chairman of Democratic Choice of Russia. The interview was conducted by Alexander Sokolowski in Moscow on 22 January 1998. References are to transcribed tapes of the interview.

(66.) Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America and Post-Communist Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 392-394. See Michael McFaul, "State Power, Institutional Change and the Politics of Privatization in Russia," World Politics 47 (1995).

(67.) Linz and Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation, p. 399.

(68.) Kohli, Democracy and Discontent, p. 190.

(69.) For a more detailed treatment of this argument, see Stoner-Weiss, "Wither the Central State? The Regional Sources of Russia's Stalled Reforms," and Stoner-Weiss, "The Limited Reach of Russia's Party System: Under-Institutionalization in Dual Transitions."

(70.) Joel S. Hellman, "Winners Take All: The Politics of Partial Reform in Postcommunist Transitions," World Politics 50 (January 1998): 204.

(71.) Ibid., 232.

(72.) Vybopry v zakonodatel'nie (predstavitel'nie) organi gosudarstvennoi vlasti sub'ektov rossiiskoi federatsii 1995-1997: elektoral'naia statistika, p. 636.

(73.) Ibid., 637.

(74.) I'urovskii, "Itogi I uroki gubernatorskikh vyborow," pp. 29-38

(75.) See Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, especially p. 31; and Kohli, Democracy and Discontent, p. 198 for more on the relationship between patronage and reduced state authority.

(76.) Riker, Federalism, p. 7.

(77.) Ibid., 7.

(78.) Kohli, Democracy and Discontent, p. 386.

(79.) Shefter, Political Parties and the State, p. 62.

(80.) Stephen Holmes, "what Russia Teaches Us Now," The American can Prospect 8 (July/August 1997): 32.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This article was prepared with generous support from the Smith Richardson Foundation. The author would like to thank Sheri Berman, Philip Roeder, and one anonymous reviewer for especially useful comments on earlier versions of this paper. The author also thanks Karen Dawisha for referring this piece to Publius: The Journal of Federalism and Michael Pagano for putting this special issue together.

Kathryn Stoner-Weiss is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is the author of many articles and book chapters on contemporary Russian politics as well as of Local Heroes: The Political Economy of Russian Regional Governance (1997). She is working on a new book tentatively entitled, Rebuilding Russia: State, Society and Governance in the Post-Soviet Era.
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