Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law Stanford University


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Russia's 'Privatized' State as an Impediment to Democratic Consolidation Part I

Journal Article

Author
Michael A. McFaul - Stanford University

Published by
Security Dialogue, Vol. 29 no. 2, page(s) 191-199
Spring 1998


Russia appears to have made tremendous progress in becoming a democracy in recent years. In December 1995, Russian citizens voted in parliamentary elections. In two rounds of voting in June and July in 1996, they then elected a president, the first time ever that Russian voters directly selected their head of state. Despite calls for delay and postponement, these two elections were held on time and under law - law drafted and approved through a democratic procedure by elected officials. Large majorities participated in both of these elections: 65% of all eligible voters in 1995, and nearly 70% in both rounds of the presidential vote. While electoral violations tainted both elections, especially the presidential vote, all participants - winners and losers - accepted the election results. After Boris Yeltsin's inauguration, the Communist-dominated parliament approved his candidate for prime minister - Viktor Chernomyrdin - by an overwhelming majority. This too was a first, as Russia's elected parliament had never approved the executive's choice for prime minister under the procedures outlined in a popularly-ratified constitution. Finally, from the fall of 1996 to the spring of 1998, over sixty gubernatorial elections were held throughout Russia. Although there was evidence that results were falsified in some races, the vast majority were recognized as free and fair by all major participants.