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Coalition Maintenance in the Soviet Union

Dennis Ross
World Politics
Vol. 32, No. 2 (Jan., 1980), pp. 258-280
DOI: 10.2307/2010023
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2010023
Page Count: 23
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Coalition Maintenance in the Soviet Union
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Abstract

Few students of the Soviet political scene have used coalition theory to explain Soviet behavior. However, the fact that coalitions are assumed to exist suggests that the different elements of coalition theory--coalition formation and coalition maintenance--may be useful for the study of Soviet decision making. Because the Soviet political system has evolved to the point where the elements that are vital to preserving coalitions are also an integral part of the Soviet system (e.g., fear of the alternative to the coalition, unanimity rule in decision making, the existence of a power broker, and the exclusion of contentious issues), the operation of coalition maintenance may describe the decision-making process. If that is so, the key institutional actors in the Soviet hierarchy must be minimally satisfied before major decisions can be reached. Although elite harmony and coalition stability are ensured thereby, lowest-common-denominator policies will serve to rule out fundamental changes or reform attempts that are necessary for coping with emerging problems. As emerging economic problems make it difficult to satisfy the incremental demands from elite actors and the society at large, it is quite possible that the current decision-making process, or the distribution of power it ensures, will not endure.

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