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Russia, Federalism, and Political Stability

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Ordeshook, Peter C.
Date: 1995
Agency: Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Series: Social Science Working Paper, no. 882
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5775
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Former Soviet Union
Subject(s): federalism
governance and politics
constitutional analysis
Abstract: "Prepared for the Workshop on Regional Constitutional Design, Moscow, March 13-17, 1995, this essay has two parts — a text in English and one in Russian. The Russian version is a translation of a slightly abbreviated form of the English text and will be published this year in Russia. Our general intent here is two-fold. First, to show the great diversity in U.S. state constitutions to a Russian audience of regional administrators and legislators and to argue that such documents, although not thought of as normal legislation, are unlike national constitutions and serve a somewhat different purpose. The objective here is to convince those who might prepare equivalent documents (charters) for Russia's regions that they need not think of their enterprise in the same terms as when people draft a national constitution. Second, we argue here that federal stability derives from constitutional provisions (federal and regional) other than those dealing explicitly with federal relations. Stability derives as well from the role and organizational structure of political parties, which, in turn, derives from national and regional election laws and from the extent to which regional and local elections are meaningful — the extent to which the offices being filled by such elections control real resources. Insofar as we should be concerned with the stability of the Russian Federation in the long term as well as the short term, then, this essay tries to shift attention from immediate policy disputes and formal federal relations to the overall design of political institutions."

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