• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Were the Russian Presidential elections of 1996 and 2000 democratic?

Extracts from this document...


Were the Russian Presidential elections of 1996 and 2000 democratic? Introduction The process of democratisation is central in assessing how Russia is modernising after the fall of the communist regime. Elections are pivotal to how democratic a state is, yet elections had been held in Russia during Stalin's reign and beyond. However, these were not democratic in the true sense; with only one candidate, clearly they were not competitive. As Dahl observed, 'the development of a political system that allows for opposition, rivalry, or competition between a government and its opposition is an important aspect of democratization' (Dahl, 1971, p1). In my essay I shall be assessing events of the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections and analysing how democratic these elections were. Huntington cited in Hughes' study asserted elections to be 'the essence of democracy, a vehicle of democratisation as well as the goal' (Hughes, 2000, p28). 1996 Election In the 1996 election there were a variety of candidates competing for the presidency, as Dahl stipulates is essential for democracy. Candidates needed one million signatures of support, with not more than 7% of signatures from one region. This safeguard short listed an original line-up of 78 applicants down to eleven. ...read more.


Whilst this is not undemocratic, it is an unfair advantage that Yeltsin held. In the instance that elections had been cancelled, it would have been a clear sign that democracy wasn't working. Yavlinsky is quoted as saying 'When you hear talk of postponing elections in Russia, that can mean postponing them for centuries' (White, 1997a, p244). Returning to a previous point, the signature forging episode does exemplify that undemocratic practices were occurring. The 1996 presidential elections were certainly on the path of democracy, however they were unfair and unbalanced in respect to the advantages that Yeltsin had in being the President. As observed by Stephen White, 'media observers saw the Yeltsin campaign as not living up to West European standards of fairness' (White, 1997a, p267). 2000 Election Having served two terms as Russian President, Yeltsin was ineligible to be a candidate in 2000. Putin emerged as favourite, having a base as Prime Minister and acting President due to Yeltsin's ill health. The print media did criticise Putin, so the democratic practices of the a free press was obvious. International spectators assessed the election and stated 'The European Union felt able to declare that competitive and pluralistic elections had become part of the political culture in Russia; the British Foreign Office congratulated the Russian authorities on the free and fair exercise they had conducted' (White, 2000, p317). ...read more.


However they were unfair in that Yeltsin and Putin already had a grasp of power and were able to use this to consolidate their victories. In electing Yeltsin as leader of Russia, it was evident he 'represented a clear choice in favour of reform and democracy, even if the presidency was not always true to such values himself' (White, 1997c, p57). There was unfair advantages heeded to both Yeltsin and Putin, and reciprocally this disadvantaged the other candidates. I am not sure that Dahl or Huntingdon would declare the elections as democracy. White asserted Russia was a 'very partial democracy: parliament had little control over the government, political parties were weak and government at a local level was sometimes based upon a criminalised Mafia' (White, 1997b, 439). The elections were conducted within the realms of a democratic liberal state, however we must consider the new constitution that substantially aided the current President. Clearly Russia is in the process of democratisation, but it cannot be regarded as a pure democracy. Over a period of time, we will be able to judge how and to what success Russia is democratising. It is a process, and the Soviet system cannot be immediately supplanted by a liberal democracy. The democratic but unequal elections of 1996 and 2000 illustrate this. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. Does democracy bring peace?

    Even the much lesser internal conflicts in smaller non-democratic nations have been deadly. The list is long and sad, including El Salvador (during its non-democratic periods), Colombia, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Czar's Russia, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Uganda.

  2. Evolution of Democracy and the Athenian Constitution

    We can infer this from the fact the when during the constitutional crises in Solon's time Plutarch in his book (p: 54, Rise and Fall of Athens) describes the various factions contending for power he describes them as the extreme democrats from the Hill, the extreme oligarchs from the Plains

  1. Communism VS Democracy

    The important point is that in each of these countries that majority of the people rules, and the minority has rights that must be respected by the majority. Their governments are violated into power by the majority and must seek approval of their policies from the people at regularly held elections (Foreman 106).

  2. What are the dilemmas of a pluralist democracy?

    According to Harrington (Kelso p.3) pluralism caters more for pressure groups than the individual; the welfare of the larger public will therefore suffer as a result. Similarly there is a large risk that the pressure group itself is undemocratic, exerting its pluralistic power according to a system that does not take account of the majority of its members.

  1. The Foreign Policy of an Islamic Presidential Democracy.

    The first discovery one makes is that the Constitution opens on a more than surprising note for a democratic regime - "In the Name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate" and moves on to stressing out the components of its identity, which are: "Islam, Arabity and Amazighity".

  2. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the system of choosing presidential candidates.

    These state-wide intra-party elections mean that any supporters can vote for a nominee to send to the National Convention and although these elected delegates still formally select the presidential candidate, it is rarely more than a ratification of the preferences expressed by ordinary voters.

  1. Indonesia: Transition and Prospects for Democracy

    Habibie started some liberal reforms, but he was still associated with the corrupted and authoritarian aspects of the New Order. Indonesia began its transition to democracy with the 1999 parliamentary elections (Chadwick, 2006), when Indonesians elected their legislative representatives to the Assembly of People's Congress (MPR), who replaced Habibie with their chosen presidential candidate Wahid in an unexpected vote count.

  2. Participation is the essence of democracy Discuss

    You do not need to vote because it is your choice. We can see that from 2001 to 2010 there has been an upward trend in the amount of votes. The main reason for this is because of the Iraq war and a large amount of the population had an opinion on it.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work