Short notice: Putin´s constitutional reform-Operetta democracy with scripted reality
There are now discussions about the Russian constitutional reform. Kremlin astrologists suspect that Putin was immortalized, while others see it as semi-democratic reforms. For the assessment, I myself start with the question of which posts Putin will keep. It is striking that he wants to become chairman of the State Council (not to be confused with the Kremlin State Council), whose rights remain unclearly defined. My guess: For Putin, this position as head of the State Council won´t be a retirement title for an elder statesman, but he wants to reorganize the State Council as a new political center with an operetta democratic facade with scripted reality where the script comes from and is writte by him and the State Council. He does not want tandem democracy or the fifth term, but rather work behind the scenes like the Turkish military through the National Security Council or Deng Xiaoping through networks in parties, state apparatus and function in the Central Military Commission. So much for my suspicions. It also seems interesting to me that the Prime Minister, as well as all other ministers, should be appointed by Parliament with the exception of the Defense and Foreign Ministers. Putin seems to be striving for continuity in foreign policy, but to be able just as Deng in 1989 events to pull the emergency brake should it become unstable at home. However, he relies more on the Silowikis and as former KGB member more on the security apparatus, his networks to oligarchs, parties and state apparatus. A sort of operetta democracy with scripted reality.It´s more the Dengstyle ruling behind the scenes and intervene if necessary than Xi Jinping-style open neototalitarism.
A former diplomat from the Foreign Ministery with experience of the Soviet Union and Russia substantiated these considerations as follows:
„The model is based on the old SU, with one decisive difference (see below):
Old SU knew weak presidents, e.g. Kalinin;
old SU knew prime ministers and ministers who were responsible to the Supreme Soviet de jure;
old SU also knew the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, in which all power was concentrated.
And now the crucial difference: a political center of power takes the place of the party’s political bureau. The State Council bundles the power of the executive at a central (FSB, general staff, etc.) and regional (governors) level. It is the supreme organ of executive structures, not the head of a party as a „civil society“ institution. The elite formation does not take place according to party loyalty and executive files, but according to the domain-specific competence requirements of the respective state institution.
This is based on profound considerations that include the state law theory of Jellinek, but also to Carl Schmitt and last but not least – so my thesis – to Andrei Snesarev’s „Philosophy of War“. Putin is extremely power-conscious, but he is not stupid at all and can be advised or presented with options. He thinks long-term, wants to pull the strings as chairman of the State Council together with his closest environment and choose a successor at the right time (when he is 80?), In my opinion from the circle of governors who are now between 45 and 55 years old and compete with each other. “
In any case, Putin will continue to govern indirectly through the State Council, and the governors remind me somewhat of the Chinese elite system, in which someone has to demonstrate top achievements as a governor or party secretary in a province.