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The Politics of Institutional Choice

The Politics of Institutional Choice: The Formation of the Russian State Duma

Steven S. Smith
Thomas F. Remington
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 176
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1g0b80x
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Institutional Choice
    Book Description:

    Events in Russia since the late 1980s have created a rare opportunity to watch the birth of democratic institutions close at hand. Here Steven Smith and Thomas Remington provide the first intensive, theoretically grounded examination of the early development of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Federation's parliament created by the 1993 constitution. They offer an integrated account of the choices made by the newly elected members of the Duma in establishing basic operating arrangements: an agenda-setting governing body, a standing committee system, an electoral law, and a party system. Not only do these decisions promise to have lasting consequences for the post-communist Russian regime, but they also enable the authors to test assumptions about politicians' goals from the standpoint of institutional theory.

    Smith and Remington challenge in particular the notion, derived from American contexts, that politicians pursue a single, overarching goal in the creation of institutions. They argue that politicians have multiple political goals--career, policy, and partisan--that drive their choices. Among Duma members, the authors detect many cross currents of interests, generated by the mixed electoral system, which combines both single-member districts and proportional representation, and by sharp policy divisions and an emerging party system. Elected officials may shift from concentrating on one goal to emphasizing another, but political contexts can help determine their behavior. This book brings a fresh perspective to numerous theories by incorporating first-hand accounts of major institutional choices and placing developments in their actual context.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2394-9
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of Tables (pp. vii-viii)
  5. PREFACE (pp. ix-x)
  6. List of Abbreviations (pp. xi-2)
  7. ONE CHOOSING LEGISLATIVE INSTITUTIONS IN RUSSIA (pp. 3-26)

    The tumultuous developments in Russia since the late 1980s have offered a rare opportunity to observe the creation of new legislative institutions—not just once but through a sequence of changes in the Soviet Union to the creation of the Federal Assembly and its two houses. To be sure, Russia is not the only place where democratization is under way, but developments in Russia are well documented by press accounts, official documents, and scholarly studies. We exploit this opportunity to explain the emergence of key features of the new legislative process in the Russian Federation. In doing so, we test...

  8. TWO FORMING A PARLIAMENTARY PARTY SYSTEM (pp. 27-53)

    Parliamentary parties are often taken for granted. Generally political science has treated parliamentary parties as mere byproducts of electoral systems and the parties they generate.¹ The number and internal features of parliamentary parties are determined by the rules governing elections and the internal features of the “parent” electoral parties. Less frequently, the constitutional and societal bases for parties are emphasized, although the problem of disentangling the electoral, constitutional, and societal influences on the identity and number of electoral parties has proven difficult.² But even when a more complex view of electoral parties is pursued, the nature of parliamentary parties is...

  9. THREE CREATING THE COUNCIL OF THE DUMA (pp. 54-71)

    The council of the Duma serves as the chamber’s executive committee. The Council has the power to assign legislative issues to particular committees, formulate and propose the daily and longerterm agendas to the chamber, resolve disputes arising from the interpretation of the standing orders, and negotiate compromise agreements on controversial legislative issues. The Council is interesting for two reasons: First, it replaced the Presidium, the executive committee of the old Supreme Soviet, which was made up of central leaders and committee chairs and was the means for central control of the Supreme Soviet by the Communist Party. Second, the new...

  10. FOUR SETTING A FRAMEWORK FOR PARTY-COMMITTEE RELATIONS (pp. 72-92)

    In this chapter, we go beyond the issue of faction and committee representation on the Council of the Duma, addressed in chapter 3, to consider the political foundations for the additional choices made about the committee system and faction-committee relations. The Duma had to establish a committee system, determine committee jurisdictions and leadership posts, and allocate committee seats and chairmanships to the members. Moreover, the factions had to determine their members’ relationships to committee work.

    As with other institutional choices, we can readily derive a set of expectations about deputies’ preferences from their electoral, policy, and partisan interests. We begin...

  11. FIVE CHOOSING AN ELECTORAL SYSTEM (pp. 93-115)

    An essential feature of every legislative system is the mechanism for electing legislators. If other political systems are a measure, the early choices about electoral laws often have enduring consequences (Lijphart 1992; Hibbing and Patterson 1992; Nohlen 1984; Bawn 1993). Once adopted, decisions on such fundamental issues as the design of an electoral system can become self-perpetuating. As winners under the existing system seek to preserve it, it becomes less likely that an alternative system will be favored by the majorities or supermajorities required to enact it. The mixed electoral systems of postwar Germany and postcommunist Hungary, which are similar...

  12. SIX PARTY DISCIPLINE IN THE RUSSIAN DUMA (pp. 116-136)

    In previous chapters, we reported that deputies’ mode of election and their policy preferences shaped their preferences about electoral law, the old Presidium, the power of parties and their leaders within the Duma, and the relationship between committees and parties. At times, more purely partisan considerations seemed to have an effect. These observations were broadly consistent with the argument made in chapter 1. No single political goal accounts for the choice of prominent features of Russian parliamentary institutions. When the implications of institutions are relevant to a goal and are fairly certain, the behavior of a significant number of deputies...

  13. SEVEN INSTITUTIONAL CHOICE (pp. 137-160)

    In Chapter 1 we argued that legislators are motivated by policy, electoral, and partisan goals and pursue those goals opportunistically. Legislators do not find all their goals equally relevant to each of the policy or institutional choices they confront. Variation in goal relevance, transaction costs, and information across contexts leads legislators with complex goal profiles to apply goals opportunistically. A single goal may often dominate other goals in the context of a choice about a particular feature of parliamentary institutions. In this way legislators are locally, not globally, rational. The interactions among institutions and strategies usually become more complex as...

  14. APPENDIX DATA AND METHODS (pp. 161-168)
  15. REFERENCES (pp. 169-176)
  16. INDEX (pp. 177-180)