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Mixed Constitutions and Political Instability

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Mixed constitutions combine executive presidents with assembly-dependent prime ministers. While some analysts argue that these regimes foster stability, their presidents are also often viewed as pivotal actors when such regimes collapse. Russia's First Republic seemed to fit the latter pattern, and this article inquires into whether the addition of an executive presidency to its constitution truly had a destabilizing effect on Russia's first attempt at democracy. Specialists provide different perspectives on this question. One view is that the constitution had no effect on political outcomes; a second perspective suggests that it may have had effects particular to Russia. Alternatively, its impact may have followed patterns similar to other countries. To examine these views the article provides a classification of this constitution using a comparative typology and then looks at the outcomes of political disagreements over government, policy and the constitution. It finds that these followed the sort of patterns of compromise and conflict that one might expect from a comparative perspective. The implications for our understanding of Russian politics and other political transitions are explored. It is argued that the Russian case helps to clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the mixed constitutions that have attracted such divergent views.
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Keywords: Russian First Republic; constitutional conflict resolution; democratic stability; premier-presidential regime

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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