Former World Chess Champion and Russian political activist Gary Kasparov once gave a good summary of the difference between chess and Russian politics: in chess “the rules are fixed but the outcomes are unpredictable,” while in Russia, “the rules are unpredictable and the outcome is fixed.” Since the writing of the 1993 constitution, Russia has altered several key features of their system. Presidential terms increased from four to six years (the parliament went from 4- to 5-year terms in the same reform); the upper house of the bicameral Federal Assembly, the Federation Council, went from being elected to appointed; cameras have recently been installed in voting places to “take care of” electoral fraud…and these are just a few of the most visible changes!
The biggest change, however, may be the Russian electoral rules themselves. In its 20 years (and going) since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has tried most every type of electoral system out there, and it appears that they will soon be returning to some old rules. Continue Reading
If people know anything about the Russian economy, they may be aware of its corruption problems, an issue that permeates every layer of its society. They might have learned (or are old enough to remember) Russia’s economic upheaval during the 1990s – hyperinflation, massive recession, insider privatization – that resulted from their attempted transition from a centrally planned to a free market economy. However, if there is one thing most everyone knows about the Russian economy, is that it is fueled by oil. Continue Reading
In our fifth and final blog assignment of the semester, students are asked to write either an Opinion piece on a recent news story from their country or write up a descriptive summary of the citizenship law in their country.
I’ve written quite a few opinion pieces before (this post on a Huffington Post piece on the supposed “death” of austerity economics or this one on whether China can save the euro), so in this sample post, I will focus on a write-up of Turkey’s citizenship law.
Every so often, the US policy of “birthright” citizenship (anyone born in the US is granted automatic citizenship) becomes a hot-button issue. Critics argue that no other industrialized country has such an open policy, which has some truth. Even other jus soli (“right of soil”) citizenship countries like the UK and France have restricted their laws in recent years, but these countries are much closer to the US policy than some more restrictive countries such as Austria, Italy, or Turkey. Continue Reading