Sovereign democracy

Sovereign democracy (Russian - суверенная демократия) is a term that with regard to Russian politics was first used by Vladislav Surkov on the 22nd of February 2006 in a speech before the a gathering of the Russian political party United Russia [ [ Transcript of a spech by the Deputy Head of the Administration of the President, aide to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladislav Surkov for the centre of partisan study and preparation of of the staff of "United Russian", 7th of February 2006.] ] . According to Surkov, sovereign democracy is:

a society's political life where the political powers, their authorities and decisions are decided and controlled by a diverse Russian nation for the purpose of reaching material welfare, freedom and fairness by all citizens, social groups and nationalities, by the people that formed it. [ [ "Expert" #43(537), 20th of November 2006, "Nationalisation of the Future] ]

This term was used thereafter by political figureheads such as Sergei Ivanov, Vladimir Putin, and Boris Gryzlov

Sovereign Democracy in Russia was realised in the form of a Dominant-party system which was put into place in 2007 when as a result of the Russian legislative election of 2007 the political party United Russia, headed by president Vladimir Putin, without forming a government, formally became the leading and guiding force of all of Russian society, not unlike the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Concrete priorities and orientations of Sovereign Democracy were conceptionalized in President Putin's Plan

The term "Sovereign Democracy" was critiqued as far-fetched and meaningless by Dmitry Medvedev, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mikhail Kasyanov, and by several foreign officials.

"Sovereign democracy" is a Kremlin coinage that conveys two messages: first, that Russia's regime is democratic and, second, that this claim must be accepted without demanding any proof, period. Any attempt at verification will be regarded as unfriendly and as meddling in Russia's domestic affairs. [ [ Putin’s "Sovereign Democracy" by Masha Lipman, The Washington Post, July 15, 2006] ]

At first the term "Sovereign Democracy" was used by the government of Taiwan for their existing political system. This term was supposed on one side describe the sovereignty and independence of Taiwan from the central Chinese government, and on the other underline the fundamental Democratic multi-party system that exists in Taiwan, as opposed to the strict Communist Party of China controlled system that exists in China.

Critics of "Sovereign Democracy"

Yuri Semyonov has written:

The concept of sovereignty relates to government as a whole, and not to a certain form of rule or to a political regime. Democracy can be direct or representative, real (which has never actually existed in the human history), formal (as in antiquity, or the modern Western countries), or a fiction (as in the USSR and other so-called socialist countries). [ [ Yuri Semyonov The history of Marxist philosophy in the USSR is very sad...] ]
In an interview for "Expert", Dmitry Medvedev critiqued the said term, pointing out that sovereignty and democracy are from different conceptual categories and fusing them is impossible. "If you take the word 'democracy' and start attaching qualifiers to it, that would seem a little odd. It would lead one to think that we're talking about some other, non-traditional, type of democracy." [ [ "Expert" #28(522) 24th of July 2006] ] .

Mikhail Gorbachev on the 19th of July, 2006, critiqued the cancellation of elections in single member constituencies, and of the raising the barrier for participation of the Duma to 7 percent. He remarked that "these innovations into legislation cannot be justified by theories of 'sovereign' or 'managed' democracy. Limitations that may be found to be necessary when the very existence of the government and its citizens may be threatened must be looked upon as temporary, and not elevated into principles, like is done by the theorists of 'sovereign' and 'managed' democracy. These kinds of definitions distort the essence of democracy, just like the concepts of 'socialist' and 'people's' democracy before them" [ [ on 19.07.2006, "Gorbachev blamed the Russian elite in outcasting citizens from politics"] ] .

Mikhail Kasyanov whilst talking about sovereign democracy pointed out that "... the aims of this doctrine are quite clear: the concentration and holding of political power and property at any cost. The consequences of this are already evident, including the glorification of populism, the steady destruction of private and public institutions, and the departure from the principals of the law, democracy, and the free market." [ [ Mikhail Kasyanov, "Empire of Freedom", "Коммерсантъ" #159(3490) 29.08.2006] ]

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried has stated in an interview that

I get nervous when people put labels in front of democracy. Sovereign democracy, managed democracy, people's democracy, socialist democracy, Aryan democracy, Islamic democracy - I am not a big fan of adjectives. Managed democracy doesn't sound like democracy. Sovereign democracy strikes me as meaningless." [ [ Current Policy Towards Russia, Serbia, and Kosovo" with Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs] ]

Leon Aron writes that "Russian wits like to say, `sovereign democracy` and `democracy` are as different as `electric chair` and `chair.`" [ "The New Republic", "The Problematic Pages" by Leon Aron, September 24, 2008]

Proponents of "Sovereign Democracy"

In August 2006 a round table was held by the heads of the most influential political powers of the Russian Federation in order to discuss the concept of sovereign democracy. According to the Newspaper Izvestia the participants were able to agree upon the fact that all of them want to live in an independent and democratic country. [ [ Wednesday the political elite agreed to talk the same language] , "Izvestia", 31st of august 2006]

In October 2006 the head institute of international welfare of the Russian Academy of Sciences published an anthology of [ "The Conception and Identifying of Democracy"] . It used Fareed Zakaria's idea of the existence of a non-liberal democracy. The authors prove that throughout the history of western civilization, several democratic systems such as Aristocratic, Oligarchic, Egalitarian, and National democracies, replaced one another. Even more specific are the Chinese's ways of determining democracy. The democratic systems of the various countries of the European Union also vary greatly, for example the French system is based primarily on the model of a strong national government, and the German system is based on a quiet ban on a right-wing conservative ideology. In the United States starting from the year 2001 were held discussions about the country moving into a regime of an "Imperial President", one who has the right to limit various citizen and political gatherings under pretenses of the war on terror.

Special interest is placed upon the theory of "Aristocratic Democracy" developed by the Italian historian de Ruggero. According to this theory, during the Middle Ages peasants had all of the rights of citizens and even maintained the right to elect monarchs. In western Europe there existed real aristocratic parliaments which were picked only by birth right. The vast majority of the population was looked upon as "unworthy" of receiving full citizen's rights. In this manner liberal democracy is only a try at adapting the norms of aristocratic democracy to the needs of the political system of to-day.

The current liberal democracy is one of the many variations of a democratic system. This kind of approach serves to advocate a scientific basis for the theory of Sovereign democracy.

In November 2007 a book by the title of "Sovereign Democracy in a Constitutionally-right-wing Dimension" was published by the publishing company "Russian Newspaper". It presented itself as a compilation of the articles and materials of the leading jurists of the Russian Federation including Valery Zorkin, and holds a constitutional basis for said concept.

See also

* Democracy
* Authoritarianism
* Human rights


* [ Project "Russia — Sovereign democracy"] , analytical portal.
* [ Sovereignty is a political synonym for the ability to compete] , Vladislav Surkov, public speech, 7th of February 2006
* [ Nationalisation of the Future] , Vladislav Surkov
* [ Our Russian model of democracy is called "Sovereign democracy"] , Vladislav Surkov, briefing, 28th of June 2006


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