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Explaining Politics: Russia

Explaining Politics: Russia

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country of Russia as we know it formed, created a constitution in 1993 and with it came its current governing body. That body consists of pieces similar to other Western democracies, with a legislative body that makes laws and the head of the executive branch that is elected by popular vote.

The legislative body is called the Federal Assembly much like the UK or US legislative body, with an upper and lower house. The upper body, the Federation Council, consists of two representatives from each of Russia's 85 administrative districts for a total of 170 different representatives in the upper body. In order to be seated in the upper body, representatives are not directly elected but rather chosen by politicians from the districts they represent. One of the senators is chosen by the provincial legislature and the other is first nominated by the provincial governor and then confirmed by that regions legislature.

The lower house, called the State Duma, is made up of 450 members that are elected based on the proportion of votes each party receives in the national elections, with a minimum of seven per cent required to have any seats. The members of the Duma are called Deputies and serve a five-year term. Overseeing the Duma is a Chairman, elected by the members of the lower house in a secret ballot, and serves to keep order and oversee the day-to-day activities of the Duma. 

Bills that are voted and approved by the Duma are then sent to the Federation Council to be either approved or not before it goes before the president who has the power to veto the bill if they so chose, which can, in turn, be overridden by a two-thirds majority. 

The government is headed by the president of Russia, currently Vladimir Putin, who is elected by receiving a majority of the votes in a national election. The president is elected to a six year term and may not serve more than two consecutive terms in a row. Below the president is the prime minister who is appointed by the president and must get the consent of the Duma before filling their position. The president, who heads the executive branch, is in charge of executing the laws of the country, appointing diplomats and judges and can issue federal pardons and can submit draft legislation to the Federal Assembly. The president is also in charge of the armed forces of Russia and is the country's commander in chief. 

There is also a judicial branch of the Russian government, consisting of judges at both the national and local level, with the highest level being the Russian Supreme Court. This court is made up of several different layers of courts that preside over different issues, from the Judicial Chamber on Cases of the Military to, at the top, The Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. The chief justice of the supreme court is Vyacheslav Lebedev who is appointed to a six-year-term by the the Federal Assembly after being proposed by the president. Serving under the chief justice are six deputy justices along with one first deputy, all of which are appointed by the Federal Assembly after being proposed by the chief justice and the president.