Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Democracy without representation? : a study in political rhetoric, institutional design, and democratic failure in the USSR
Author: Cappelli, Ottorino
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 1998
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This study examines the failure of the Soviet transition to democracy by focusing on the political rhetoric and the institutional design of Gorbachev's demokratizatsiya. An antithesis exists between the liberal, representative design, which attempts to moderate the "excesses of democracy," and a radical democratic design, with its strong appeal to direct, unmediated popular action. The theoretical parameters are thus the Madisonian view of "representation without democracy" and the Rousseauian notion of "democracy without representation." The latter belies a populist plebiscitary model of democracy which may have authoritarian implications. I trace the latter in Marxist-Leninist ideology, and its embodiment in the institutional framework of the Soviet ancient regime where, however, the radical democratic elements were neutralised by party control. Although Gorbachev's demokratizatsiya introduced competitive elections and "parliamentarism," it was not conceived as a transition to Westernstyle liberal democracy. It was the product of "reformism without revisionism," inspired by a intense populistic rhetoric, and aiming to mobilise the masses through a grand reawakening of direct democracy devices. The self-destructive consequences of this approach are analysed, drawing the conclusion that the hybrid institutional design of demokratizatsiya, its attempt to combine direct and representative democracy, was inherently contradictory and generated a devastating conflict. I focus on the role played by four major democratic institutions: mandat imperatif, recall, the referendum, and presidentialism. While the rhetoric and practice of mandate and recall contributed to delegitimise the first elected Soviet legislature, the synergy between presidentialism and referendum determined the failure of democratic transition and ultimately sealed the fate of the USSR. Finally, the legacy of these events will be examined, highlighting that most post-Soviet states may be heading down towards a populist-plebiscitary type of democracy, with evident authoritarian implications.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available