The political system in Russia short for RU by Abbreviationfinder gives the president great power. The 1993 Constitution draws clear boundaries between the executive power, that is, the president and the government, the legislative power (parliament), and the judiciary that consists of the judiciary. The idea is that these should balance each other, but in practice the president dominates completely. In early 2020, President Vladimir Putin announced his intention to change the Constitution and the current balance of power.
The president is elected in general elections and can only sit for two terms in a row. The term of office was until the end of 2008 four years, but then a constitutional amendment was adopted which means that the term of office from the 2012 election became six years. Thus, Vladimir Putin, who was president between 2000 and 2008, was re-elected for a new term in 2012 and once again 2018.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Russia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
Parliament consists of a lower house, a duma, and an upper house, the Federation Council.
The President appoints the Head of Government (Prime Minister) who is then to be approved by the Duma. The other ministers are appointed jointly by the Prime Minister and the President. The president sets guidelines for the country’s politics, and in reality it is the president’s government. The President further appoints high officials, such as judges in the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Conciliation Court, as well as the Governor of the Riksbank.
The President is also the country’s highest military commander and has direct responsibility over ministries dealing with the country’s internal and external security such as the Defense, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Justice and the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and also the various intelligence and security organizations that have followed the Soviet intelligence service KGB.
To his assistance, the President has two advisory bodies, the National Security Council and the Government.
The National Security Council has great influence and includes the Home Affairs, Foreign and Defense Ministers, the head of the National Guard and the heads of the country’s internal and external security services.
The government plays a more hidden role. Among other things, the Council consists of the leaders of the 83 so-called federation subjects (see below).
Duman’s 450 delegates were previously elected in direct elections for four years, but in 2008 the mandate was extended to five years. The barrier to small parties is five percent. (The barrier was seven percent in 2007-2013). In 2014, the election system was changed so that half of the members of the dum are appointed proportionally through party lists, half through direct elections in one-man election circles.
The stupid manages most of the treatment of legislative proposals but approval is required in both chambers. For a law to come into force, it must be signed by the President. If he vetoes (refuses to sign) the veto can be voted down by a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
Each of the subjects of the Federation 83 sends to the Federation Council two delegates, one appointed by the governor and one by the regional assembly. The tasks of the Federation Council include approving appointments to high offices, deciding on state of emergency and use of military, and ratifying international agreements. The Federation Council must also be involved in approving the budget.
Formally, a majority of the duma can trap the government in a vote of no confidence, but in practice it is very difficult. The President may be dismissed by Parliament following a complicated judicial procedure if the President has committed high treason or similar crimes.
In January 2020, President Vladimir Putin surprisingly presented a series of draft constitutional amendments that he wants to submit to a referendum. Putin wants, among other things, to give Parliament greater influence over the formation of government. He plans to strengthen the influence of the advisory government and change the legislation on presidential elections (read more in see Current policy).
Under Vladimir Putin’s rule, Russia has evolved towards a social system of “controlled diversity”. In the elections held to the parliament (duma) and regional assemblies, various parties have lined up, but most are loyal to the Kremlin power group (see Political parties). Since the main mass media, mainly TV, are largely controlled by the state, independent political groups and candidates have very little opportunity to assert themselves. Putin has also enforced a number of laws that have harmed the opposition’s activities (see Current Policy).
The opposition outside the Duma has tried to reach out to the citizens by organizing demonstrations that are often dispensed with by the police. Another form of protest has been organized on several occasions by young artists who have criticized the prevailing order in Russian society in exhibitions, installations and other public actions.
Opinion surveys show that the Russians have low confidence in the country’s political institutions and do not think they have great opportunities to influence anything in society. In traditional Russian manners, the dissatisfied citizens primarily blame inept bureaucrats and local politicians for the abuses. They are aware that it is an authoritarian form of democracy they live in and would like to have more political influence, but most see no realistic alternatives to the leaders they have.
One reason for the population’s lack of confidence in the authorities is the widespread corruption, which worsened during the 2000s and constituted a brake block for business and individual citizens. The swollen state administration, where individual officials have the right to distribute permits of various kinds and are willing to pay for it, is a breeding ground. Another is the intertwining of political and economic power. The “re-state” of companies in the energy sector, mainly during Putin’s presidency, has given government officials and holders of key positions both influence and ownership in profitable activities (see also Democracy and Rights.)
The Russian state is officially a federation of 83 so-called federation subjects. After Russia conquered the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in the spring of 2014, Moscow added two subjects to the list, Crimea and Sevastopol, but these are not recognized as Russian territory by the outside world.
Federation subjects are equated by the Constitution but are divided on different grounds. The republics, the autonomous circles and the autonomous region are set up for the country’s national minorities. The others are geographically defined administrative units.
In each region there is a people-elected assembly and a head of administration, usually called governor. These are appointed in general elections for a term of five years. A Governor cannot sit for more than two consecutive periods. Everyone who is running for governor’s office must have some support from local council members and officials in order to stand for election.
To ensure that governors comply with laws and regulations and do not exceed their powers, the Kremlin has set up eight major “federal districts”, each led by a representative of the president. Crimea and Sevastopol make up a ninth federal district.
Courts at all levels are directly under the central power. The highest bodies are the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Highest Settlement Court (for disputes in the labor market). The Constitutional Court reviews that federal laws, presidential decrees, government regulations, parliamentary decisions, and the statutes, laws, and decisions of republics and lower administrative levels are consistent with the federal constitution.
The judges are proposed by the president and appointed by the Federation Council. Other federal judges are appointed by the president. The Prosecutor General is also proposed by the President and approved by the Federation Council. Prosecutors at lower levels are appointed by the state prosecutor.
The Russian party system is changing. Parties are formed, rename, form alliances and disappear again. However, during the 2000s, the party system has become more solid and several smaller parties have disappeared. In contrast, political diversity has diminished and the Kremlin’s influence has increased.
Following the large demonstrations held in Russia in protest of the outcome of the parliamentary elections at the end of 2011, the law was changed to make it much easier to form new political parties. Previously, it was required that an intended party should have 40,000 members. After the change of the law, it was enough with 500.
United Russia (Jedinnaja Rossija) was formed in 2003 through a merger of two other parties. The party has no real program but represents forces in the political center, not least in business, and supports the sitting power group in the Kremlin. United Russia won a grand victory in the 2007 elections and gained a two-thirds majority in the duma. However, the 2011 election was an unexpected setback. United Russia lost close to 80 seats and succeeded in barely having its own majority in the duma. The party got revenge in the 2016 election with over 100 new mandates, thereby again controlling more than two thirds of the seats in the duma.
A just Russia (Spravedlivaja Rossija) was formed just before the 2007 elections to give voters a non-communist left-wing alternative that emphasizes welfare issues. The party has a close connection to the Kremlin power apparatus, but at the same time some of its members in the duma have played a prominent role in the new opposition movement. The party lost more than half of its seats in the 2016 election.
The Liberal Democratic Party (Liberaldemokratitjeskaja Partija Rossii) is a dissatisfaction party with a nationalist image. Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky is known for his challenging behavior, but in all important votes the party usually supports the government. The Liberal Democrats have their strongest foothold in medium-sized cities, where many are dissatisfied with conditions in the country. The Liberal Democrats also went backwards in the 2016 election but smaller than the other two.
The Russian Communist Party (Kommunistitjeskaja Partija Rossijskoj Federatii, KPRF) is the only real opposition party in the duma. The party, led by Gennady Ziuganov, is made up of the rubble of the Soviet Communist Party, which was banned in the fall of 1991. The party is nationalist and advocates a marked left-wing policy with greater state influence in economic life and a more even distribution of income and wealth. The party became the biggest in the Duma elections in 1995 and 1999 but declined sharply during the 2000s. A turnaround came in the 2011 election, when the party nearly doubled its voting share, but in the 2016 election, the pendulum swung back. The party lost the most mandate of all but ended up in second place.
Among the parties outside Parliament, Jabloko is tagged with party leader Grigoriji Javlinsky. Jabloko remained a small but fairly stable social-liberal party throughout the 1990s, but has not managed to cross the barrier to small parties in any of the recent duma elections.
The most well-known regime critic, Aleksey Navalnyj, has made several attempts to form parties but has failed to get any of them registered. Instead, Navalnyj is acting within the framework of the Anti-Corruption Foundation he formed in 2011.