The purpose of this essay is to find out what a dominant party system is and also to ascertain why the United Russian party has become a dominant system in Russia. The first step of the discussion will involve defining what a dominant system is and expanding on the meaning of dominant systems with respect to political parties and organizations. The next stage of the essay will involve examining the political party, United Russia in detail to determine whether it has become a dominant system party in the USSR.
A dominant party system is one where a country is governed by a single political party or organization that has successively won the elections for a considerable amount of time and one whose defeat by opposing political parties or organizations in the near future is unlikely.
Some of the most common dominant party systems in the world include the Indian National Congress which is the ruling party in India, the Workers Party in Angola, United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Cambodian Peoples Party, the African National Congress which is based in South Africa and the Kuomintang political party which is the main dominant party in the Republic of China (Suttner 2006).
While some dominant party systems have been viewed to have negative effects on the citizens of a country, other systems have proved to be pillars of stability in the economic growth and development of certain countries such as the Indian National Congress (Hardgrave and Kochanek 2008).
Many dominant party systems in the world have been viewed by many political analysts to have adverse effects on the general welfare of the citizens they govern. Political analysts view such systems as political parties that view the meaning of democracy as to be given power and authority. This means that such systems assume that a particular conception of representative democracy occurs when different parties alternate between sharing power in the same political domain or country (Sartori 2005).
The main assumption that underlies dominant party systems is that other forms of political organizations or parties are viewed to be opposition to political development in the context in which the dominant system operates in. These systems view other parties as organizations that have limited importance or separate entities that hold a different version of what democracy means.
One the dangers posed by dominant parties is that they appoint members to offices of authority without considering their professional qualifications. They also at times impose themselves on democracy as they are based on the belief that they are the dominant law (Friedman and Wong 2008).
While many of the dominant political systems in the world have a conservative approach to politics, their systems of governance are usually deeply flawed and they lack any capacity for analysis and explanatory measures. These parties strongly oppose any populist organizations that call for multipartism in a democratic society and they are hostile to opposing sides that have gained popularity with the masses.
In contrast with single-party systems where other political parties are banned from participating in politics, dominant systems tolerate other parties that are operating in the same political context and they also ensure that they do not pose any legal impediments to these other parties.
However, these other parties do not have a realistic chance of winning any elections especially if the dominant part system exists in an authoritarian context. Authoritarian governance systems that support the activities of dominant party systems are referred to soft authoritarianism or electoralism parties.
These governance systems allow opposition parties to operate legally but these parties lack the necessary power and authority to challenge the governing body which is more than likely plagued with corruption allegations, constitutional flaws that make it difficult for the opposing side to win an election and government policies that support the status quo (Greene 2007).
As mentioned earlier, some dominant party systems that are existence in the world have been viewed to offer citizens a sense of democracy and freedom. The reasons that have been offered as to why such as system might be supported in some countries might be because the party is doing a good job in supporting the countrys development by implementing policies that are directed towards the growth of a country.
Another reason might be that the opposing side might be offering unrealistic or unpopular changes to the citizens of the country while the dominant party is offering more realistic options that are meant to drive the growth of the countrys economy (Katz and Crotty 2006).
The features or characteristics that are used to denote whether a political party is a dominant system include complacency where the party system that is in place becomes complacent and views its political situation as guaranteed. This leads to a situation where the political party becomes arrogant as they hold the belief that they are indispensable.
Party systems that are dominant also close the gap that exists between the party in power and the state. When the gap that exists between the two concepts appears to disappear or diminish, an unhealthy relationship develops where government resources and machinery are used to support the operations of the political party and the state officials are rewarded with monetary gains by the political party in power.
Such a scenario played out in the Thatcher administration where the functions of the Civil Service in the UK were viewed to be an auxiliary of government policies. Civil servants within the government were rewarded by being included in the Queens Honours lists for sustaining their relationship with the dominant party (Pennings and Lane 1998).
United Russia is termed to be the largest and conservative political party in the USSR as it occupies 315 out of the 450 seats that are in the state of Duma. It has mostly gained its support from presidential candidates such as Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin.
Established in 2001, the political party was formed after the merger between the Unity and the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) parties which were initially on opposing sides. The total number of members for the party currently stands at 1.98 million where 30 percent of the Russian population supports the United Russia political party (Remington 2010).
The main goal of United Russia is to unite all the responsible political forces in Russia as well as minimising the differences that exist between the poor and the rich. The party also supports an economy that accommodates state regulation and market freedoms where the benefits derived from increased economic growth are distributed to the less fortunate members of society (Sakwa 2008).
The official platform for the United Russia political part is based on political centrism where it refuses to tolerate any leftist or right wing ideologies that are meant to divide the Russian political climate.
This is one of the reasons that has made the party become so popular amongst many United Russian loyalists in the federation country. Many of the voters who support the party associate it with economic market orientation as well as opposition to communist rule which was a predominant factor in Russia. The partys strong stand against westernised foreign policies from countries such as the US and the UK has also made it the popular political party in Russia (Hale 2006).
According to Hale (2010), many of the partys voters attributed the success of the countrys economy to the United Russia political party. Such growth has enabled the party to entrench itself in the Russian political system making the party appear to be a dominant political system in Russia. Given that it occupies almost all of the seats in the state of Duma, United Russia is slowly becoming a dominant party system in the USSR.
Many foreign media observers have also noted that United Russia is purely a presidential party that is mostly focused on continuously winning the presidential seat in Russia. Since a large number of officeholders in parliament are members of the political faction, the party could well be termed as a dominant political system. Also, because of the vast majority of officeholders that belong to the party, it has been coined with several names such as the public official party or the administration party of Russia (Sharlet 2005).
Apart from populist views and the support of loyalist voters, United Russia has become a dominant party system in Russia after the introduction of sovereign democracy into party by political leader Vladislav Surkov in 2006. According to Surkov sovereign democracy was the political life of a society which had its decisions controlled by a diverse Russian nation so that it could be able to achieve fairness and freedom for all its citizens as well as material justice.
This would mean that the party would become the dominant party system in the whole of Russia. Sovereign democracy eventually came to be put in place in 2007 after the Russian legislation election that took place in the same year. The party which was then headed by President Vladimir Putin became the leading force in Russia even without forming a government that would lead its operations (Reuter 2010).
The introduction of sovereign democracy in Russia marked the beginning of the dominant party system in the country as many of the political heavyweights, Sergei Ivanov and Boris Gryzlov incorporated it into the United Russia party system.
The level of influence that the party has in the Russian parliament has however been limited to the upper house which is the Federation Council in Russia. This did not however stop outsiders from viewing the party as a dominant party system as it followed sovereign democratic principles which stated that the party was the dominant force in Russia (McFaul and Stoner-Weiss 2010).
Political leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Dmitry Medvedev and Mikhail Gorbachev, criticised the term sovereign democracy which was introduced by Surkov where they stated that sovereign democracy was a Kremlin concept which conveyed the message that Russia was a democratic society that accepted political governance without any verification of the partys authenticity. Medvedev pointed out that sovereignty and democracy were two different terms that could not be joined together because of the underlying principles that governed each of the concepts.
Mikhail Gorbachevs criticism of the term sovereign democracy was based on the cancellation of elections in the single member states that made up Russia where the United Russia party increased the barrier for single member constituents to participate in the Duma elections. Gorbachev remarked that such barriers could not be seen as theories of sovereignty or managed democracy as they presented necessary limitations to opposing political factions that wanted to contest dominant party systems in Russia (Reuter and Remington 2009).
Other critics of sovereign democracy such Yuri Semyonov termed the concept to be related to the countrys government as a whole rather than a single political party while Mikhail Kasyanov termed the term to be a doctrine that concentrated power on a single political party. The evidence of such criticisms and sentiments in the Russia Federation was mostly noticeable because of the glorification of the populist movement and also the slow but steady demise of both private and public institutions in the country (White 2005).
The thin line that existed between political policies and the principals of law was also a major indicator of the dominant party system that United Russia had become. According to Mikkel (2011), the strong presidential powers that existed in the party made it more of a dominant party rather than a democratic political system in Russia.
The dominance that United Russia had on presidential elections was mostly notable because of the process that was used in the elections. While democratic political systems required that candidates for presidency had to be chosen from the inside of political parties within the country, United Russia prescribed to a different system that saw the presidential candidate for the party being selected independent from the party system.
Apart from this, election laws and policies developed by the presidential administration limited the number of opportunities that opposition members or candidates from small parties had during campaigns and elections. These laws were meant to prevent the creation of other parties within Russia leaving United Russia to be the populist political party in the country (Mikkel 2011).
This discussion has focused on dominant parties and how United Russia became a dominant party. The findings of the study have revealed that the introduction of sovereign democracy marked the introduction of dominant party systems in Russia with United Russia becoming the main political party in Russia. The support of President Putin and the affiliation that the presidential administration had with United Russia ensured that the party was able to entrench itself as the dominant political force in Russia.
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