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The Legislative Effects of Presidential Partisan Powers in Post-Communist Russia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2014


CURRENT SCHOLARSHIP ON PRESIDENTIAL POLITICAL SYSTEMS FINDS that the distribution of power between presidents and assemblies can vary significantly from one presidential polity to the next, and can even change within the same presidential regime over a relatively short period of time. Presidents are shown to exercise different levels of control over the law-making process according to the de jure legislative powers at their disposal – initiation, veto, veto override, budgetary and decree powers– and their de facto partisan power – the level of disciplined party support that they command within assemblies. Different combinations of these powers can have strikingly different institutional, behavioural and policy effects. Indeed, such variation has led some analysts to question the usefulness of models of executive–legislative relations that are based solely on the traditional distinction between presidential and parliamentary political systems.

Copyright © The Author(s) 2008.

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46 The Moscow-based Centre of Applied Political Research (INDEM) compiled the data-set of votes used in this analysis. INDEM has a database of all the electronically recorded votes in the State Duma. All Duma votes, except secret votes, are electronically recorded. The number of such votes vastly exceeds the small number of ‘roll calls’ that are publicly available from the stenograms of the State Duma.Google Scholar

47 These data covered votes on ‘important’ bills: legislation deemed to be particularly consequential at each Duma by commentators at the time and retrospectively. For more detail on the method used, as well as a list of the laws deemed to be important for the years 1994 to July 2001, see Chaisty, Paul and Schleiter, Petra, ‘Productive but Not Valued: The Russian State Duma, 1994–2001’, Europe-Asia Studies, 54: 5 (2002), pp. 701–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar. These data also included votes that were contentious: roll calls were excluded from the data-set when less than 10 per cent of legislators voted against. Finally, the data-set only included the votes of deputies who were parliamentary party members for the entire period under analysis.

48 This index measures the absolute difference between the percentage of aye and nay votes within a party, and produces a cohesion scale from 0 (when a party is evenly divided) to 100 (when party members vote unanimously).Google Scholar

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72 This law replaced a number of Soviet-era social benefits with cash payments. These benefits included free public transport and medicine.Google Scholar

73 Important bills that were already in the legislative process from previous Dumas were excluded from the data-set. Budget bills were also excluded because of their fixed annual cycle.Google Scholar

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77 See Richard Rose, ‘How Floating Parties Frustrate Democratic Accountability: A Supply-Side View of Russia's Elections’, in Archie Brown (ed.), Contemporary Russian Politics: A Reader, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 235–46.Google Scholar

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