After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians approved a new constitution, but they had no democratic traditions. In the 1990s economic hardships and political turmoil increased. Many Russians feared the growing chaos and longed for a return to order. Some would say, President Vladimir Putin is restructuring the federation back to a Soviet style government. Several measures Putin has installed to devolved power unequally across the country can be found in the chart below. As a result of all these changes, the federation is highly centralized.
Changes made by Putin
|Creation of super-districts||In 2000 seven new federal districts were created in Russia. Each district was headed by a presidential appointee who supervises the local authorities as Putin sees fit.|
|Removal of governors||A law allows the president to remove from office a governor who refuses to subject local to the national constitution.|
|Appointment of governors||Putin ended the direct election of the 89 regional governors. Governors are now nominated by the president and then confirmed by regional legislatures.|
|Changes in the Federation Council||The federation Council (the upper legislative house) was made up of governors and Duma heads of each region. Now acts as a rubber stamp body for the executive branch.|
|Elimination of single-member-district seats in the Duma||2005 Putin initiated a change to a pure proportional representation electoral system that eliminated candidates that were regionally popular.|
Questions to consider:
- How are Russia’s key institutions structured?
- Is Russia set up to be democratic?