What its functions are, types of it,
What are the conditions which make the opposition transform and develop? What causes political opposition to rise, fall and rebirth? Is political opposition driven by the endogenous factor such as liberal reforms? We are going to show how such endogenous factors like liberalization of political and social sphere, influence the opposition development. We show that the relaxation of the government pressure on the civil society together with the new opportunities created by the state for different civic initiatives helped the political opposition to be restored and be extended.
The created after the USSR inaccessible political opportunities were replaced due to partial liberalization during the Medvedev’s presidency. But before we need to focus on the opposition itself. The phenomenon of political opposition is presented in the contemporary political science fragmentally. And despite the common fact that political opposition is essential part of the democracy, as E.Kolinsky says opposition «has never been in the limelight of political analysis».
Still, we can divide the existing literature into 5 big sections using the approach of N. Brack and S. Weinblum: political theory –Dahl, Sartori, Schapiro, Ionescu and De Madariaga; comparative politics –Blondel, Helms; transition theories –Stepan, Spence and case studies on non- democratic regimes – Schapiro, Mutalib, Levitsky, Diamond, Carbone, Barber, Franklin, Leca, Hlavacek and J.
Holzer and social movements’ literature – Weigle and Butterfield, Kolinsky.There are 3 main issues we want to highlight:1. What opposition is, what its functions are, types of it, strategies and goals of opposition;2. Opposition in hybrid regimes and how it influences on the democratic transition;3. What things influence the nature of opposition, its transformation and characteristics.The first issue is presented by the classic comparative politists as Dahl, Sartori, Schapiro, etc. In his famous work Dahl describes political opposition as such type of relations: when B is opposing to the government of A. Surely, that such naive definition doesn’t reflect all sides of the phenomenon and there are many aspects of it.
Schapiro refers to political opposition as organized political group or groups that are willing to change a government and replace it with desired one. This definition doesn’t point that there are some opposition, which can oppose a state itself, providing the alternative to a regime or when some opposition groups can oppose government only on several issues. So, Sartori claims that political opposition consists of 2 types: anti-system for and so-called «real opposition». The last one is one which opposes not the political system but a government, and provides the consent at the community and regime levels. On the contrary, anti-system opposition doesn’t support the regime legitimacy. He also provides us with the basic roles of opposition: channel of communication by informing the public on specific political issues , a “safety valve”, etc.
Pizzorno doubts it to some extent claiming that despite the fact that opposition party can seek to obstruct the political system and the government it is still party and it works as part of the systems. He shows it on the example of the Italian communsits. So as we see, this typology doesn’t reflect all aspects of the opposition regarding aims and preferences. So, Kircheimer provides us with the typology of the political opposition which includes 3 types: «loyal» opposition which goal is to provide alternatives of a policy recognizing the legitimacy of regime; «principled» opposition which is against either a governmental policy or the regime legitimacy; and so-called «elimination of opposition» when the minority groups compete with the incumbent for power. Moreover, he presented the theory of «waning of opposition» presented in 1950s saying that classical political opposition, especially opposition of pricniple «wanes». Anyway, there is some internal opposition inside the party-based interests groups agreements and neocorporate structures. But Kircheimer was critisized that this theory wasn’t valid neither in that days nor now.
So we can see that definition and description of the phenomenon is qute restricted as new forms of opposition appear and reflect new patterns, concerns and issues.Speaking about opposition modes Norton describes the variety of the situations where opposition can appear using the King’s «modes of opposition» 1) opposition mode, when majority opposes minority; 2) inter-party mode, when opposition from a party inside the coalition; 3) non-party mode, different united independently from one party actors against a governmental policy; 4)intra-party mode, opposition inside a party against a policy; 5)cross-party mode, political parties in opposition united together over specific policies. Regarding the second issue, first of all we must say that the opposition varies in its characteristics among authoritarian and liberal regime. Diamond says that in non-democratic regimes’ opposition is usually banned or there are severe restriction on the organization of opposition.
Anyway, there are some regimes like «competitive authoritarian» one where is a multiparty electoral competition made of «pseudo-multriparty».Sartori uses such term as «hegemonic party system» where the party in power uses without any limits coercion of patronage, media control «to deny formally legal opposition parties a fair and authentic chance to compete for power». Such regimes are competitive because the democratic institutions are real and the opposition can use legal tools to contest for power. But they are authoritarian because the opposition is handicaped by unfair and uneven playground, saying shortly, competition is real but it is unfair. To win opposition requires level of opposition mobilization, unity, skill, and heroism not as what would normally be required for victory in a democracy including, for example, international observation. Levitsky describes what opposition can ran into in competitive authoritarian regimes, when the civil liberties are formally guaranteed, but they are frequently violated. Moreover, many opposition politicians, independent media, etc. in such regimes can experience violence.
So, we can say that in hybrid regimes the opposition plays the special role, but it can perform all its functions fully as in democratic regimes. It runs into different obstacles, but it is very important as its existence and its performing functions can show and help to estimate the democratic (or non-democratic) development of the regime. As for the last issue we want to mention Russian scholar Gel’man who says that such categories need operationalization, adding that the competitiveness of political regime is closely connected with the structure of political elite, i.e.
actors who can influence political decisions. One of the recent studies conducted by Higley and Burton provides the theory of “consensual elites”. The concept is that there are two or more competing elite camps and they have different resources and interests. 1) If they recognize common interests in coexistence they form a consensually integrated elite. 2) If they are disunited they fight for dominance with each other. 3) An elite may be united in only bloc that allows no public expression of other interests and asks its member to express fidelity to a one single ideology. According to scholars for stable democracy the consensual elites are necessary.
Another important factors are the nature of political competition and the political system itself. The institutions shape the opposition creating its rights or their absence, environment, mode, and the whole nature of it. Diamond claims that the state structure plays the most important factor. And the institutions can be crucial where some of them can intercontrol executive power and others provide the mechanisms to suppress opposition. The institutional recognition of the opposition by granting some rights and responsibilities can change the pattern completely regarding the opposition functions and aims. In pluralistic democratic systems, the legitimacy of the opposition in general let it freely express its views and act effectively being the necessary counterpart, protecting the minorities from the abuse of power by majority. It is also very important that the opposition is legitimate in the system, i.
e. has its right to exist. Most studies make accents on the parliament opposition and its status ignoring the opposition that other institutions can be the channels of oppositions in democratic and non-democratic states. The non-governmental institutions can also contribute into the opposition development; the problem is that in some cases they are not allowed to be fund. So, can it be then that political liberal reforms, which change the shape of the system, contribute into the opposition evolution? In our article we state that the changes in political institutions and in a political competition nature such as liberal reforms i.
e. the liberalization in the electoral and social fields can be the greatest impact on the opposition activity and its evolution on the example of so-called “opposition rebirth” in Russia during the 2011-2012. We have chosen the Russia’s case also because it shows the function of the opposition in non-democratic states.
The case of Russian opposition is very bright example of different phases of opposition evolution, which can play the crucial role into the future democratization. Development of Russian opposition After stable enough Soviet one-party system, the Russian party system evolved into hyper-fragmentation and high volatility system, and then to a bloc with a monopoly of the party in power. In the 1990s the fragmentation and instability created the obstacles to develop an efficient party system.
The new power was based on patron-client relations. The following changes in political sphere were done as concentration of power in the hands of the president and the decreasing role of the Parliament during 1990s. The political system of Russia was transformed due to these changes. It led to the strong anti-system opposition.Moreover, in that period a method, “machine politics” or “administrative resource” was established. A patron or a group dominates these machines, and they control sources and distribute it at the lower levers of the pyramids.
That was the reason why the loyal opposition was built in inside the bloc of the party of power “United Russia” since 2003 and lost its status of opposition creating something like “pseudo-opposition”.Or as some scholars call it “Dresden party system” connecting its with the party system of Eastern Germany referring to the number of puppet parties under strong control of the Communist Party in 1980s. The choice was to loose elite status or to submit and become part of such system. In case if the ruling elite split the opposition could have chance to remain real opposition and get real power, but it didn’t happen.
Such systems where there are many fake-oppositional parties make people tend not to believe in them. At the same time Putin fought with business, so-called oligarchs as Khorodorkovsky, Berezovsky, etc taking away their assets using the state power and not only. As the results many oligarchs became parts of the regime. Some of them had in their hand such tools as the biggest TV channels that the state could benefit. In December 2007, the four parties were elected in the State Duma. Among them there were United Russia, Just Russia, The Communist Party of Russian Federation and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. All of them have formed the monolithic bloc ruled by one party.
Some even said the there was “the extinction of the Russian political opposition”. It made obvious that regime have become very sophisticated imitating multiparty democracy. And as March says: Russian election campaign of 2007-2008 “looked ever less like a democracy”.
Due to the laws established before many parties as for example “Drugaya Rossia” (Different Russia) could not participate in the elections of 2009, being “outside the system which is called politics”.Saying shortly, it was an attempt by the main party “United Russia” to create “the democratic façade” during the 2000s, creating the obstacles for the real opposition, depriving them the right to enter into the electoral competition.But the patterns of 2010-2012 look completely different. We can see that some of the anti-system opposition members became legitimate actors of electoral politics, that new political actors (who have influence) appeared; the new political and social issues became really relevant countrywide.So what were the changes in the system during the Medvedev’s presidency that led to the several changes of opposition? First of all, it was the liberal rhetoric, which supported the whole course of Medvedev’s “modernization”, despite it wasn’t very liberal. The most obvious example of the “illusory” of such governmental rhetoric is the fact that Putin remained in the state having the real power. The new strong institution as “PALORP” (Prime minister and leader of the ruling part) who was Putin arose. Surely, that post was strengthened with the informal authority of the ex-president who had in his hands the real power.
But it seemed like the things had really changed to some extent. At the same time the presidential and Parliament terms have been increased – from 4 to 6 and from 4 to 5 years. But the government now had to report on their work once a year to deputies.
The heads of the regions now got their right back to be elected directly. It is very relevant as the many frauds were seen during the regional elections before and legitimacy of these heads was disputable. To the Federation Council only the deputies who got their place in local governances can be elected now. Moreover, many heads of the regions that had been on their places since 1990s were removed. The famous mayor of Moscow Y.
Luzhkov was dismissed because of “loss of trust”. These actions made the electoral field more liberal and more open to the new leaders and new ideas. The anti-corruption actions were conducted.
The task of combating corruption was directly related to the need for a large-scale law enforcement reform, which was launched in 2010. A number of resonant accidents involving law enforcement officers, the most notorious of which was the shooting of visitors to a supermarket in Moscow by the head of the Tsaritsyno police department, major police Yevsyukov, forced the authorities to take up the situation in the Interior Ministry. The reform of the country’s largest ministry was marked by the president’s initiative – the militia were renamed the police, which is not the greatest difference proving once again the incompleteness of the claimed reforms. The new law tightened the requirements for employment in the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, relieved the ministry of a number of functions unusual for it, and abolished the so-called “stick” system for assessing the work of law enforcement bodies. At the same time, the salary of employees who could pass the re-certification was significantly increased. In the same year, 2010, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation was created, which left the jurisdiction of the prosecutor’s office.
Then the president called it the first step towards the creation of a single and independent investigative body in the country, but so far the investigative structures of other departments (the prosecutor’s office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSKN and the FSB) remain independent. Surely, the creation of such body meant the priority of the law and the shifts towards the democratization. Plus the registration process of parties was simplified. The liberal but partial nature of reforms busted the new turn of opposition, which was represented by the much younger leaders which symbol became A.
Navalny, 37-year-old politician. He founded the new institutions making them legal, which mean that he was right and the government didn’t violate his right to do this. For example, non for-profit fund fighting against corruption was founded. The ones who are usually persecuted by the fund are the members of the ruling political elite. Moreover, Navalny was nominated as candidate of RPR-PARNAS party (The Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party) for the Moscow mayor elections in 2013. And he received his right to be the candidate and he actually used it. The figure of Navalny is very bright, even in 2011 according to the independent polls 68% considered Navalny’s allegations about corruption reliable, in Moscow it was 88 %, 79 % of the wealth people and 76 % among the young people.The one of the most important part was that the new civic initiatives appeared due to the weakening of pressure, moreover, the new critical issues were discussed inside the consulting bodies and different councils provided by the state in the course of the reforms.
It showed that having other different from the government’s opinion is okay; it was considered okay to express it. It helped to create a special space where the activists could be in the political arena and unmask the state’s lies, how it was in Khimki forest case. The new social movements and non profitable organizations appeared, the ones who took some states responsibilities as “The Blue Buckets movement” aimed against the violation of traffic rules by high-ranking government officials. So, the opposition could use the new channels of the communication with the government due to its incentives as these the bodies for discussing special issues. The people who didn’t agree with the course or some aspects used these bodies to make their opinion public. Afterwards, when Putin announced to come back the civil activists felt deceived by Medvedev’s promises and aligned themselves with the opposition.Seeing the new waves opposition and waver status quo of government the response was created.
In 2011 during the coming Duma elections the modernization of United Russia party was claimed transforming it in something that is called “All Russia People’s Front”. Something that was claimed as “broad coalition around the party United Russia party..
. representing different ideological positions…” The chairman of the front was Putin. The PARNAS party wasn’t let to the elections despite the huge support. The drop of government pressure on civil society together with governmental attempts at dialogue with the people, created opportunities for civic initiatives that broaden the opposition’s abilities to set and renovate its agenda and allowed their leaders to speak louder without the risk of being stigmatized as “enemies” as it was before. The former closed structure of political opportunities was replaced by partial and illusory liberalization, which boosted the politicization of civil society that developed into the solid environment for the rise of opposition.
Nowadays, still being unable to conduct their campaigns in the official media they use the new tools as different Internet sources seeking the new ways to influence the political process. As Putin claims to ve the TV person, Navalny uses the potential of the Internet even shooting the films about the corruption of the most famous politicians (obviosly the members of the United Russia party and the people who are in some of the most important oficces in Russia). The most current fight now before the elections of the 2018 is for being able elected for the precedency that Navalny is now involved will show if some real changes are coming. ConclusionDuring the 1990s and till mid 2000s the new structure of Russia was introduced with the one monolithic bloc headed by the United Russia party. The party, which became the essential part of the government tried during these years to create “the democratic façade” which worked for several years despite the fact is wasn’t very convincing.
Other parties in Parliament weren’t opposition because they didn’t provide any important governmental alternatives. The opposition system was worn out, as people had no faith in these ones. Moreover, the real opposition parties that were anti-system parties were simply not allowed to the political arena and had no adequate sources to confront with the United Russia party and other pseudo-opposition parties.
The new wave of the Medvedev’s “modernization” busted “the rebirth” of the real opposition letting new leaders and issues play the important role on the political scene. It was a breath of fresh air. The opposition was refilled with the activists who became able to out on the political agenda some very important issues. The situation in Russia can be described as something between non-party mode and opposition mode. The changes in the system, appearing some new institutions made it possible to change a little bit the status quo which was established during 1990s and mid 2000s.
The new areas of the discussion issues in the public space made it possible to arise some controversial themes and express the civic position, creating the public opposition. Moreover, non-governmental institutions funded by the opposition leaders got their right to exist. Removal of the old regional heads contributed to the trustworthiness of the political institutions creating the more liberal environment. So, we can see that the liberalization and the opposition activity are inter-related.
The new wave of indignation appeared when the ex-president, the figure of the authorized Russia announced that he wanted to be candidate for the presidency election in 2012. The new generation of the opposition felt deceived, it gave another bust to the opposition, which is relevant till now as the new elections of the 2018 are coming. Surely, it is only one side of the picture, and there are many other factors that influenced rebirth of opposition in Russia as changing generation, external factors, etc. And obviously, more profound studies are required.