Violations of rights, a weak Duma, political parties dominated by bureaucrats, and corrupt privatization are ordinarily taken as signs or even causes of the failure of democracy in Russia or at best as normal traits of electoral politics in a middle-income state. Yet all of these are natural consequences of introducing democracy in a country with the Russian electorate’s distinctive recent experience of a loss of a third of the state’s territory and half its population. In such a democracy only a centrist, not a liberal, strategy can block a return to authoritarianism, and such a strategy in Russia will subordinate rights to the task of privatization that a Duma weakened by ideological, demographic and geographic impediments to party development cannot conduct. Consequently what are taken as signs or causes of democratic failure in Russia are instead necessary effects of introducing democracy in Russia’s special circumstances.

This content is only available via PDF.