Democracy Derailed in Russia

The Failure of Open Politics

by M. Steven Fish

Series: Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

Why has democracy failed to take root in Russia? After shedding the shackles of Soviet rule, some countries in the postcommunist region undertook lasting democratization. Yet Russia did not. Russia experienced dramatic political breakthroughs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it subsequently failed to maintain progress toward democracy. In this book, M. Steven Fish offers an explanation for the direction of regime change in post-Soviet Russia. Relying on cross-national comparative analysis as well as on in-depth field research in Russia, Fish shows that Russia's failure to democratize has three causes: too much economic reliance on oil, too little economic liberalization, and too weak a national legislature. Fish's explanation challenges others that have attributed Russia's political travails to history, political culture, or to 'shock therapy' in economic policy. The book offers a theoretically original and empirically rigorous explanation for one of the most pressing political problems of our time.

In The Press

'Interest in Russian politics and society is on the increase in 2006, sparked mainly by concerns about Putin's commitment to democracy (especially in the light of efforts to suppress the independence of NGO's) and the use of Russia's natural resources in the pursuance of foreign policy objectives (brought into focus by the gas price dispute with Ukraine). Democracy Derailed thus makes a very timely contribution to the literature. Fish has produced a highly informative book that will be of use both to readers with a background in post-communist transformation as well as those with a general interest in Russia … its presentation is accessible and includes anecdotes and personal accounts that bring together data with real life experience.' Development and Change