The Basis of Putin’s Power

in Russian Politics
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This paper focuses on the way Vladimir Putin has sought to build a power base within Russian politics. This base has rested on two foundations: institutional consolidation and elite management. With regard to the institutional basis, he has relied on the constitutional position of the presidency reinforced by the power vertical, the party of power, and the presidential apparatus. He has sought to manage the elite by means of his personal administrative style within a patrimonial context, the shaping of his popular image, and the reworking of the ideological and policy spheres. The paper concludes that although the resultant power base has been solid until now, there are tensions within it that may make it unsustainable in the long run.

The Basis of Putin’s Power

in Russian Politics




Barbara GeddesParadigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics (Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press2003): Ch. 2. This view is counter to that of such people as Hadenius & Teorell and Slater who see personalism not as a regime type but as a trait in all types of regimes. The problem with this view is that there are some regimes (such as that of Stalin in the late 1930s and 1940s) where the leader is so dominant that the whole tenor of political life is set by him. The most sensible designation for this is the personalist regime. Axel Hadenius & Jan Teorell “Pathways from Authoritarianism” Journal of Democracy 18 1 (2007): 145 and Dan Slater “Iron cage in an iron fist: authoritarian institutions and the personalization of power in Malaysia” Comparative Politics 10 1 (2003): 81–101.


 For example Milan W. SvolikThe Politics of Authoritarian Rule (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2012).


Presidential decree 849 13 May 2000“O polnomochnom predstavitele prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii v federal’nom okruge” and resolution of the same name Rossiiskaia gazeta 13 May 2000. See the discussion in Cameron Ross Federalism and Democratisation in Russia (Manchester: Manchester University Press 2002): 139–145.


Federal Law 106-FZ 29 July 2000“O vnesenii izmenenii i dopolnenii v Federal’nom zakon ‘Ob obshchikh printsipakh organizatsii zakonodel’nykh (predstavitel’nykh) i ispolnitel’nykh organov gosudarstvennoi vlasti sub’ektov Rossiiskoi Federatsii’”. See the discussion in R.F. Turovskii Politicheskaia regionalistika (Moscow: Izdatel’skii dom gu vsle 2006) 506–507 and Jeffrey Kahn Federalism Democratization and the Rule of Law in Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002): 245–252.


 For some data see O.J. Reuter“The Politics of Dominant Party Formation: United Russia and Russia’s Governors”Europe-Asia Studies 62 2 (2010): 300 and Ora John Reuter “United Russia and the 2011 Elections” Russian Analytical Digest 102 (26 September 2011) 6.


Respectively Blank (2008) and Henry E. Hale Patronal Politics. Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press 2015).


 On this see Mikhail VoslenskyNomenklatura. Gospodstvuiushchii klass Sovetskogo Soiuza (London: Overseas Publications Interchange Ltd1985).


Hale (2015) 181.


 For a study see Graeme GillSymbolism and Regime Change in Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2013): Ch.3.


Monaghan (2012): 9–12.


 For example see Aburamoto Mari“Who Takes Care of the Residents? United Russia and the Regions Facing the Monetization of L’goty”Acta Slavica Japonica 28 (2010): 101–115.


Roberts (2012): 33.


Monaghan (2014): 18.


Hale (2015).


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