Reading Russia: Forms Without Substance

Issue Date April 2009
Volume 20
Issue 2
Page Numbers 47-51
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

Twenty years ago, there was a more thoroughgoing political pluralism in Russia than there is today. In some respects, the forms of democracy-including party consolidation-have been enhanced, but they have been so manipulated as to deprive them of substance. Either “electoral authoritarianism” of “multiparty authoritarianism” (Juan Linz’s terms) may reasonably be applied to contemporary Russia, although “façade democracy” is no less apt. Now that performance is declining, the value of legitimacy based on real political choice and genuinely democratic elections may become clearer. It is critically important that Western countries engage with Russia-and with far more political imagination than they showed in the immediate post-Soviet period.

About the Author

Archie Brown is emeritus professor of politics at Oxford University and emeritus fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford. His most recent book is Seven Years That Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective (2007).

View all work by Archie Brown