• 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?

    Arguably the most damaging dispute to the claims of "democratic peace" theory is that democracies are not always peaceful. Great Britain, arguably one of the world's best established democracies suffered for several decades from terrorist attacks by separatist groups angry at the British government over the division of Ireland and

  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. Russia's Political Party System as an Obstacle to Democratization

    It created the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia to make the Communist Party of the Soviet Union appear to be the responsible center besieged by democratic extremists. This was an act that would later contribute to the polarization of the Russian Federation's party system, to the detriment of the genuine democratic parties (Waller 1994).

  2. Evolution of Democracy and the Athenian Constitution

    but had failed and got himself and most of his supporters brutally murdered by the Archons at that time who were led by Megacles, an aristocrat of the powerful Alcmeonid family. Since the conspirators had taken sanctuary in Athena's temple and were lured out for trial and then killed unjustly

  1. Indonesia: Transition and Prospects for Democracy

    The first direct presidential elections took place in 2004, deemed to be free and fair, with retired general Yudhoyono winning a "landslide victory" (New York Times, October 5, 2004) over Megawati. Indonesia is now, as of today, free (Freedom House, 2007).

  2. What are the dilemmas of a pluralist democracy?

    This is undisputable and most easily achieved by the protection of individual rights, in the case of pluralism, by a collective contribution to the policy making process. In the same way, a system of separation of powers and 'checks and balances' are also key to the pluralistic protection of the individual.

  1. To what extent do recent elections in the UK and the USA support the ...

    in Britain the debate about embourgeoisement resurfaced. There were areas of working class voters who became more prosperous, particularly in the south. Increased share ownership combined with the decrease in price and increased availability blurred the lines between the working and middle class. This was compounded by the decline in traditional industrials, with the emergence of new industries.

  2. Participation is the essence of democracy Discuss

    He used a metaphor saying said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.? the government represent evils and the good men represent the citizens who are allowed to vote.

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