ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Russian Presidency

Russia faces peculiar difficulties in developing a democratic political system as historically power was held first by the tsars and later by the Communist Party. Under Yeltsin's presidency political reform derailed and the process of devolving power to institutions other than the presidency stalled.

Presidency is a relatively new term in politics. It received an important place in the American Constitution of 1789. With the collapse of monarchies and empires during the last two centuries, presidency has emerged as the alternative institution of governance for the new-born countries. After the second world war, nearly two-thirds of the countries of the world opted for presidential form of governance. The USSR, however, was a notable exception.

After the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, Soviet leaders not only rejected the political inheritance of the old tsarist regime; but also political models of the west. By the mid-1920s a chief executive had emerged in the Soviet Union. However, it was not the president, nor prime minister but the general secretary of the Communist Party who took over as the executive head – a novelty in the political annals of the country. Russia’s monarchical tradition ensured the absence of a presidency in the pre-revolutionary era. The communists’ aversion to alien political models prevented them from adopting presidency as an institution of governance. In the early Bolshevik years, traditional ministries became commissariats, and the legislature gave way to Soviet parliamentarism, where executive and legislative functions were supposed to vest in a single institution.

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