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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: July 2009

6 - Weak National Parties, Weak Central State

Summary

One way in which the Russian state might have become better vertically integrated in the past, and might perhaps do so in the future, is through the creation of unifying political institutions. In other political systems, political parties have served as links between national and local political actors. Political parties within the context of a competitive electoral system are one method by which to interrupt the collusive relationship between regional business and government that can be so detrimental to the creation of a unified political, economic, and legal expanse.

Political parties are key institutions for building democracy and also key institutions in maintaining a cohesive state. Parties serve as conduits between civil society and the state, and also between center and periphery. They can promote coherence in policy platforms across nation-states. In short, parties can solve collective action problems by integrating the polity as well as by aggregating interests.

But with the collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, and the limited role that both Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin ascribed to political parties in their respective presidencies, it is hard to see a truly national party system that stretches from center to periphery developing in present-day Russia. Indeed, Putin's moves by 2004 away from electoral democracy at the regional level may well have permanently doomed the process.

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