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Библиотека : Публикации латвийских ученых : Политология





Political Elite’s Attitudes on Security and Democratic Integration in Latvia and Russia

Mihails Rodins, Lecturer of comparative politics, Department of Political Science, University of Latvia. E-mail: rodins@acad.latnet.lv

Background.

Democratic transition in Eastern Europe is greatly influenced by changes in national elite configurations and by their behavior. These changes I believe are a major determinant of post-communist transformation. Stable democracy, national security and integration require a strong unified political elite with consensual attitudes toward society. Stable democracy and the integrated nation-state can not be achieved if weak or non-differentiated elites exist without legitimacy and political tolerance. These changes are taking place in the context of important continuities and discontinuities in a particular state with ethno-national and cultural-linguistical peculiarities. Among continuities are the strongly elitist East-European transitions to democracy, has led to political cynicism and the alienation of citizens from decision-making; former communist nomenclature is at the top of political hierarchy and occupies leading roles in these societies. The system’s change, without change of elite domination, has occurred according Beyme. Among discontinuities are “contested elections, mass movements with significant plebiscitary thrust, disputes over constitutional and other relations between state actors and institutions, the privatization of much economic activity, and the spread of corruption and criminal alliances spanning the public and private sectors,” (Higley, Pakulski, Wesolowski, 1998,p.1).

The overall direction of elite changes under democratic transformation is toward a unification of elite configuration and widening its differentiation. Meanwhile, national scenarios are exercised, strengthening the democratic elite, civil control of power, a restriction of elite competitiveness labeled as democracy and ultra-nationalists elites with strong policies to restriction of political and social rights.

A key questions arise: Who rules in East-European transitional societies? A divided, fragmented, or consensual national elite is emerging in these regimes? What are the attitudes between and among national elites? These questions are addressed at the transformations of elites in Latvia and the Russian Federation, conflictual regions of the post-Soviet space. On-going national negative prejudices, unsolved intergovernmental politics and mutual distrust are the irresistible barriers between Latvia and Russia. 84.2% of the Latvian political elites are not satisfied with the political relationships between Latvia and the Russian Federation. Obviously, these relationships are a joint product of the Latvian and Russian political elite’s behavior and its political culture.

Recent findings (Rose, 1993, 1997,1999) suggest that in the Russian transitional period there is an enormous dissatisfaction in governmental policy, lack of confidence in political institutions and leaders. Evidence presented in the literature demonstrates that low level of support attitudes towards legitimacy, political power and leadership leads towards political instability and violations over the rule of law. Market liberalization and a high degree of continuity in the configuration of elite groups, as well as the continuity in values form the authoritarian regime, gives for the leaders and office holders the boundless possibilities for profit-seeking behavior. The introducing democracy ”from above” and practice of mixed regulation of economy provides for political elites uncontrolled translation their own interests for market institutions into the public policy.

The process of regime transition has been dramatic in the Baltic States. After 50 years of occupation and forceful integration into the Soviet Union, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declared their independence in august 1991. From an ideologically unified and consensual Baltic elite, controlled by Moscow, during the communist period, the new states faced new challenges (see, A.Steen, 1995, 1996, 1997; Rodins 1998, 2001).

National elites had to meet these challenges, democracy and market economy, by establishing political institutions and institutionalizing political processes; deregulating the economy, and meeting the demands and needs of the constituents. Due to the regional diversity and cultural peculiarities in the Baltic States, unequal resource distribution between elites was reasons for differences in elite configurations and action. The earlier split between ‘old’ and ‘new’, or nationally minded and Moscow-minded groups, evolve toward the formation of a larger number of distinct elite groupings, based predominantly on ethnicity. Strong elite control, exercised in Baltic States, has clearly had effects on existing coherent and homogeneous elite groups.

According to O’Donnell and Schmitter (1986), and Huntington (1991), transition from authoritarian to democratic regimes occur with a large degree of elite continuity. Using empirical variables of elite changes, such as a party membership, occupational position, ethnic background, age, etc., our conclusion is that Baltic elites are a combination of continuity and change. The younger, well educated, mid-level leaders from the former regime continue to occupy most of the top positions. A considerable part of the elite, who came into power after the regime collapse, was members of Communist party and recruited from the party nomenclature. There was no alternative political elite outside the party apparatus. The main criteria of belonging to the political elite are ethnic background, professional competence and loyalty to the value of an independent nation-state. Common to these elites are new possibilities for bureaucratic opportunities, desire for indigenous control over the key state institutions and privatization, and to some degree nationalists orientations. The exclusion of Russians from elite positions was important, not only as a strategy for nation building, but it facilitated circulation and career opportunities for the ambitious and nationally oriented elite. The new ruling elite was recruited from existing structures due to the lack of other competitive elites. Elite recruitment occurred mainly as upward mobility.

The ethnic composition within the new political elite has changed dramatically. The ethnic structure of the society has directly influenced the composition of elites. This is in contradiction to the democratic idea of representatives. Indigenous elites are dominating in a country of large ethnic minorities. Elite change is a process of national consolidation with a clear result of de-Russification. Elite change means not only the breakdown of totalitarian regime, but also the break down of Russian political and cultural domination. Ethnicity, as a main political cleavage in Latvia, resulted in a more integrated elite pattern, than in Lithuania. The integrated elite, with a strong emphasis exclusion of representatives from other ethnic groups, has been an important precondition to the more restrictive citizenship politics and political and social rights. Citizenship is viewed as the main mechanism of elite’s political control.

Regarding the elite’s values, which are important for functioning of liberalist democracy, there is an observed shift toward acceptance of democratic preferences. In particular, these beliefs include more tolerance of others’ opinion, less claims that one strong leader does a better job, than endless debates between interest groups, more favorable attitudes toward opinions and conflict prevention and resolving conflict through continuous contacts between interest groups.

For the Baltic States besides with economic development and social policy more attention is paid to security problems. Although, security in this context is understood rather in terms of regional stability and progressive relations between states than in the context of international and military affairs. The internal stability in Latvia predominately associated with the European integration and NATO expansion; in contrary, the Russian internal stability is mostly linked with the development of federalism and military reforms.In this respect, the paper is oriented towards the analysis of democratic integration and political stability in Latvia and Russia through the achievement of regional security and mutual trust and cooperation. From the empirical point of view, the paper is oriented towards the understanding of the main conflicts among and inside the Latvian and Russian political elites: legitimacy crisis, contradictions in understanding the security, differences in their political values and preferences.

Our main hypothesis is that: the level of political stability in the Baltic states and Russia is low and depends on legitimacy, dispersion of political power, and elite’s value dimensions and policy preferences.

Data and methodology.

The survey of the Russian political elite and its attitudes towards the Baltic States is based on the survey “ Political Elite in Russian Federation”, which was done by Dr. M. Rodins and Dr.V. Timofeev between November 1996 - February 1997, in the Russian State Duma. The data of political elites opinion polls was gathered from formalized face-to-face questionnaire-interviews with a total of sixty-nine deputies of the Russian Parliament. Identifying political elites by formal position was supplemented by "reputational analysis" and "decision-making" approaches (Dahl, 1961). The borderlines and structure of the Russian political elite and its attitudes were explained by using a model to test the Russian deputy’s perception of the political elite. All deputies were formally interviewed in the Russian Duma, by Russian interviewers. The sample of the Russian political elite is representative and reflects the party composition, blocks, factions and independent deputies.

The data of Latvian political elites gathered from formalized interviews in national Parliament with a total of 76 Deputies in a period of May-July, 2000. The respondents are chosen from the top institutional positions and sampled to the greatest possible extent from analogue positions in both countries.

Political integration.

To study the extent of democratic integration of the political elites in Latvia and Russia, the attitudes of leaders towards the legitimacy and political power were analyzed.

Legitimacy plays an important role for the functioning of any type of society, its models of political changes and stability. Legitimacy indicates acceptance by the ruled of the ruler’s authority. According to various scholars (Lipset, 1959,1981; Linz, 1988; Miller, 1991 and others), legitimacy is the belief that existing social institutions are appropriate for the society or simple better then others. There are a lot of confusions and debate questions on how much legitimacy has a particular state, or what should be considered as an “ideal legitimate” regime (Linz, 1988). According to Dogan, legitimacy comes by degrees (Dogan, 1994, p.302). Many scholars in order to compare a variety of regimes ranked them from completely support (which may be a sign of totalitarian regime) to completely rejection, which indicates an existing of illegitimate state. There is no confusion if opinion holders support legitimacy of the regime and, at the same time, neglect or have lost a confidence in governmental institutions and political leadership. The declared distinction between regime, power and office-holders, which is typically characterized the pluralist democracies, is becoming a matter of practice in transitional societies.

Legitimacy is particular important during regime changes towards a democratic form of government, because democracy can work with the support of the people (Higley, 1989; Miller, 1991). But, theories of legitimacy concerns with the difficulties of dual social problem of dismantle the old politico-legal cynicism and distrust in government, as a legacy of totalitarian regime, and constructing the new legitimacy in time of democratization. Moreover, a democratic institutional changes and structural imitations may also duplicates by a high level of political alienation and distrust in government, as in case of the Baltic States (Rodins, 1993, Steen, 1996).

Legitimacy can be tested empirically by survey of opinion-polls on confidence in institutions, trust of leaders and support for the regime (Miller, Reisinger and Hesli, 1993; Dogan, 1994.) Attitudes towards institutions of power, leadership and regime may me regarded as a precondition of legitimacy and integrative politics.

Confidence in institutions.

Confidence in institutions is regarded as vital and important to political stability in democratic society. Public opinion towards issues of confidence on institutions and trust in political leaders is a primary indicator of the state of a particular society. Most reports on mass attitudes towards confidence in institutions in Western democracies demonstrated the low level of confidence in various social and political institutions (Listhaug and Wiberg, 1992; Duch, 1995). Miller’s opinion survey in Russia gives unmistakable indications of a strong crisis of confidence and an absence of political trust among respondents toward traditional institutions. The same picture is addressed towards the democratic changes in Russia, where a rather low level of confidence of new alternative institutions and structures have emerged as part of the transition from totalitarian regime (Miller, 1993, p.60). The same findings of small positive attitudes and trust in institutions in Russia were collected in Rose’s survey data (Rose, 1993, 1995) and in Latvia (Rodins, 1993, 1999). In this case, the question of interrelationship between the low level of confidence and political stability and performance is still under conceptual and empirical uncertainty (Lane, 1997). According to Steen’s data on the Baltic States, the more positive elite attitudes towards institutions then of mass support attitudes may, so some extent, compensate the decline of confidence of the masses and assist towards the political stability (Steen, 1997.)

In table 1 the institutions were presented and ranged according to their policy-making functions (President, Parliament, Government, Local Government, political parties/movements, trade unions), implementing functions (court, security forces), more symbolic functions (church, armed forces, press, mass media, system of education) and private-interest functions (private business). Obviously, the attitudes towards the various groups of institutions will be different. The expected small level of confidence and its dissimilar character will be coincide and may be explained as by various reports on apathy and cynicism in Latvia (Rose, 1994, 2000) and Russia (Rose, 1993, Zaslavskaja, 1996-8), as by selective perceptive of output of existing institutions, which affected the individual’s life in particular ways.

The dependent variable in our analysis is the individual/mass level of confidence, as perceived by elite’s representatives. This variable is constructed from responses to two questions, which are worded as follows: 1) “Please look at these alternatives and tell me, how much confidence you have in each of the institutions listed?” 2) “In your opinion, to what extent do the ordinary people trust leaders of the following institutions”

The empirical results of confidence in institutions in Russia and Latvia are presented in table 1. Institutions with symbolic functions as church and the system of education are having more confidence among elites and masses. The President in Latvia is having twice more confidence among elites and masses than of Eltcin’s precedence. The policy-making institutions like Government and Local government in both countries is very low in confidence. The same small level of confidence was reported towards institution of national armed and security forces, mass media and private business. The surprisingly lowest level of support is declared towards political parties and movements (10% in Russia and 32% in Latvia) and trade unions in Russia (7%), which are playing there rather decorated role in the political process. According elite’s point of view, multi-party system, as an important indicator of regime changes, don’t play yet an essential role. There is a clear difference among the elite’s perceptions towards the institutions based on respondent’s party identification. In Russia, the representatives of Communist party of Russian Federation, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; Russian Regions; Agrarian party and “Power - to the people” are more negative in their evaluations of institutions of power than members of centric and democratic parties. Also there is a large distance between elite’s attitudes towards President, Federal Government (lowest confidence) and Russian parliament (the level of trust is rather high), which can be explained by constant conflicts between President and its Administration and Parliament. In case of Latvia, the Peoples Party has more confidence (13%), then other political parties in Parliament (no more then 6.6%). But surpassingly low score of confidence in political parties in Latvia may be explained by lack of tradition of multy-party system and their poor performance, especially in economical expectations of people.

Table 1. Confidence in institutions in Russia and Latvia, as perceived by elites and the masses, (in brackets) in %*.

Russia(1997)

Latvia(1993)**

Latvia(2000)

Institutions

1. President

33.3

(37.7)

-

75

(82.9)

2. Federation Council

42.0

(30.4)

-

-

3. Parliament

53.6

(31.9)

34

(24)

59.2

(84.2)

4. Government

26.1

(18.8)

38

(24)

30.2

(75)

5. The armed forces

31.9

(43.5)

34

(33)

48.7

(52.6)

6. Local governments

33.8

(39.1)

28

(18)

42.7

(39.4)

7. Political parties/ movements

10.1

(17.4)

13

(6)

31.6

(6.6)

8. The church

31.9

(66.7)

55

(64)

63.1

(86.8)

9. Courts

47.8

(42.0)

43

(21)

81.5

(17.1)

10. Press

17.4

(31.9)

32

(41)

7.9

(51.3)

11. TV and Radio

15.9

(33.3)

-

23.7

(65.8)

12. Trade Unions

7.4

(27.5)

7

(14)

63.1

(39.4)

13. The system of education

53.6

(59.4)

45

(42)

55.3

(54)

14. The private business

23.2

(11.6)

32

(22)

39.5

(21)

15. FSC

20.3

(33.3)

-

-

*Responses to these questions were coded so that indexes “a great deal, quite a lot”; “total trust, some trust”, which were combined and presented, correspond with support. The respondent’s answers “no answer or don’t know” are calculated as a missing data and don’t present in the table.

** Data are computed from Steen (1996).

Comparing the mass and elites attitudes, our conclusion is that as elite, as mass actor has clearly small confidence in institutions. At the same time, the public attitudes have less confidence in institutions than elite’s representatives. Compared with the Russia, the Latvian public attitudes are more positive towards the President, Government and Parliament then of elite’s perceptions. The more positive confidence in institutions among elites, than among the masses, may be interpret as a sign of consolidation among the elites and tendency toward political stabilization of the regime. Also, there is a clear tendency in growing the confidence in institution during the last election companies in Latvia that could be a sign of political stabilization.

But in sum, the extremely low level of confidence in social and political institutions as by elites, as by mass public in Russia in Latvia does not correspond towards the stable democracy. The obvious deficit of trust in institutions of power and social structure has a negative impact on the whole process of transition to democracy.

Trust in leaders.

According to transitional theory, during a regime transformation to democracy political elites play a key role in the whole process of social changes. There is no single, agreed definition of elite’s concept; the structure, function, the initial mechanism of attitudes and recruitment of political leadership are vagueness and uncertain. Leaders, as argued Edinger, are “persons who exercise control over the behavior of others so as to move them in a desired direction” (Edinger, 1993, p.6). Leadership’s property in many ways depends on their political attitudes and modes of decision-making; and, hence, this concept is a very individualistic one. Quite clear that every political leader is an individual and unique actor; the outcomes of their behave are very ambitious and differ from each other with great level. The extent to which political leaders are able to influence and to get involved in decision-making process is reasonably explained by the interaction between leaders and political environment in which they behave.

Elite configurations, its attitudes and behavior are crucial factors in determining how government and political power are organized and exercised. An important dimension for evaluation of post-communist democratic transition in Russia and Latvia is the level of trust in political leadership, as a vital precondition of legitimacy of the regime. At the same time, trust in leaders may be regarded as a necessary source for legitimate functioning of the national parliaments.

Table 2. Individual’s characteristic in society and leadership in society (%)*.

Variables

Russia

Latvia

1. it will always be necessity to have strong, able people that run everything

60.9

73.7

2. very few people really know what is in their best interests in the long run

49.3

-

3. few strong leaders will do more for this country than all the laws and talks

36.2

-

4. in this complicated world the only thing that we can rely on are leaders or experts who can be trusted

11.6

17.1

* In the table the codes: “very important”, “rather important” and “agree strongly”, “agree” are combined and presented.

Our hypothesis is that elected leaders receive a small political support but higher that trust in institution in which they behave. The negative mass orientations towards political elites, as it supposed, assist towards political instability and create the “attitudinal gap” between elite and mass-actor.

The responses towards the questions, concerning the most important characteristic in society (see, table 2), are sharply skewed in the direction of rational view of personality. The individual’s main characteristics are most of all connected with the education, profession, features of character and income; the less - with the ethnicity, religion and gender as reported the respondents.

The more complicated picture is about elite’s attitudes towards the role of political leadership and evaluation of its influence over the society. Turning to variable of the leadership in society, the respondents in Russia and Latvia highly agree that it will always be necessity to have strong, able people that run everything. At the same time, the elites are very little evaluated the ability of leaders to know what is in their best interests in the long run, and their actual behavior. Political elites, in common, are very pessimistic in a belief that in this complicated world the only things that we can rely on are leaders or experts who can be trusted. One may conclude, that there is a dissonance between the recognition of necessity of leadership in society from the one side, and distrust in leaders and skepticism in their abilities to decide and behave. Comparing with the Russia, trust in political leaders in Latvia, from the political elite’s views, is higher, especially towards President (82.9%), the armed forces (52.6%) and mass communication (more then 65%).

In common, trust in leaders in Russia and Latvia is higher then towards the institutions, as it was expected. An essential conclusion is the existence of person-oriented political process in both the Russia and Latvia, which indicates the strong elitist composition of transitional societies.

Support in regime.

In Easton’s framework (1965), the attitudes towards regime incorporate both the institutions and the general principals of government and politics, including the support for a multiparty system or a parliamentary form of government. In order to stress more on the empirical distinction between various level of support in legitimacy, we incorporate the Easton and Dogan (1994) approaches towards the understanding of regime variable by introducing the operative indexes of support in government and political system as a whole.

Some scholars argue that decline in trust reflects a rejection of the whole regime, while others insist that this variable merely reflects the specific forms of dissatisfaction with political leadership. The controversy between Arthur Miller and Jack Citrin provides an understanding of political trust dimension and suggestions for the new research strategies. Miller, in his first analysis of the decline of political trust, claims that widespread discontent and political alienation, feelings of powerlessness and norm practice, are very likely to be accompanied by hostility towards political and social leaders, the institutions of government and the regime as a whole (Miller, 1974). Measuring the changes in public opinion and mass behavior in Central and Eastern Europe by the New Democratic Barometer (NDB), Richard Rose specially links the trust in government scale with the political regime and system of governing (Rose, 1993). On the other hand, Citrin maintains that the decline in political trust reflects a withdrawal of support from the political incumbents.

According to the Jennings and Niemi, one of the major findings in the trust-studies is that political cynicism can be negatively related to political behavior (Jennings and Niemi, 1968). Another basic findings reported in the previous studies of trust in government is that the level of political trust does not differ much in accordance with social class, ethnic and citizenship issues (Rodins, 1993, 1998). A substantial literature has focused on the relationship between political alienation and ideology. Many these studies demonstrate that conservatives are more alienated then liberals because they believe that “the best government is that which governs least”. And both the liberals and conservatives (especially those, who are belonging to the extremes) are politically more alienated then moderates. The explanatory model of the changes in political trust is based on the distribution of ideological identification as a source of variation in trust level and, on the other side, on the ideological distance between the government in power and the governed (Miller and Listhang, 1993).

Of great interest in the theory of trust in government is the existence of strong connections between political trust and feelings of political efficacy and perceived government responsibility. All these variables have a high level of significance. People who believe that the government is responsive (external political efficacy) are more likely to be politically trusting. The efficacy dimension of political alienation refers to people’s perception of their ability to influence (Abramson. 1983). The trust dimension refers to the beliefs about outputs of the political system. But the feelings of political trust and feelings of external political efficacy are usually related, although these two attitudes have different behavioral consequences. People who are politically trusting are more likely to feel politically officious, while those who are cynical are more likely to feel politically powerless. Persons oriented towards high level of external political efficacy are more likely to engage in politics. But persons who are politically trusting are more likely to take part in participation then those who are feeling cynically.

Table 3. Support in government in Russia and Latvia by political elites (in %)*.

Russia

Latvia

A. Confidence

1. How much confidence you have in the government

26.1

30.2

2. Most politicians cannot be trusted to do what they think is the best for the country.

47.8

75

3. People who have important public positions usually thinks more of their own than of the good of the people.

53.6

-

B. Effectiveness and responsibility of the government

4. The government is generally responsible to public opinion.

33.3

80.2

5.The public has little control over whatpoliticians do in office.

58.0

78.9

6. The average person can get nowhere by talking to public officials.

52.2

40.3

C. Subjective competence

7. The politicians generally make up the right decisions for our country.

49.3

47.3

8. Certain people are better qualified to run country because of their experience and skills.

78.3

-

9. To compromise with our political opponents is dangerous because it usually leads to the betrayal of our own interests.

18.8

-

* In the table the codes: “agree strongly”, “agree” and “a great deal”, “quite a lot” are combined and presented.

The crucial and unsolved question is how far the feelings of trust in soviet regime of the past communist nomenclature, which is, in fact, in a position of political power elite, are transported during the new regime changes and democratic reforms. (Obviously, the same sacramental question is concern with the existence of top political leadership, recruited predominately through the previous communist power elite group, as the main arhitector of democratic revolutions in East-European countries).

The purpose here is to examine the extent to which all these alternative model of the attitudes towards regime changes fit with empirical evidence. The specific feature of the transition in Russia is not only the uncertainty of the process of change itself and the cherished good of this marathon (a definite model of democracy) but also is the domination of the political experience of the former communist regime. The tenacity and stress of the stagnation period are changed by the new stress of surviving under the reforming institutional arrangements.

With the goal of analysis of support in Russian and Latvian governments, nine items were selected to form a variable trust-scale, included a confidence in government and its authorities, effectiveness and responsibilities of the government and subjective competence of governmental authorities (see, table 3). As table 3 indicates, the confidence in government by representatives of Russian and Latvian political elites is very low - 26.1% and 30.2% correspondingly. More then half of respondents suppose that most politicians cannot be trusted to do what they think is the best for the country, or they usually think more of their own than of the good of the people. The low level of trust in government and authorities coincides with the evaluation of elites of the effectiveness and responsibility of the government. The government is generally responsible towards public opinion only by 30% of the members of the Russian and 80.2% of the Latvian Parliament. And about 60% in Russia and 80% in Latvia think that the public has little control over what politicians do in office, and the average person can get nowhere by talking to public officials. The last may be interpreted as an existing of a barrier between political leaders and the public. At the same time, more then 73% of the Russian political elites indicated a preference for the equal chance to influence government policy by ordinary citizen. The indicator of subjective competence of governmental authorities is based on the three items presented in the table 4. All these items rather clear indicate that more then half of the respondents expressed a positive evaluation of personal competence and professionalism during the political decision-making. And more then 2/3 part of the whole Russian Duma convinced in the necessity of compromises with political opponents. In general, the distribution of responses in table reveals that political alienation from government is very high and correlates with the “gap” in elite-mass people interrelationship. At the same time, the personal competence and self-evaluations in governmental are rather high and contradict with common distrust in leadership.

Power is the next our independent variable, which comes after analysis of attitudes of political elites towards legitimacy. The central function of the state is the maintenance of its order. Historically this has been achieved through institutional monopoly over the use of force. According to Hall and Taylor, institutions affect individual action and collective outcomes by conditioning both the distribution of power and the definition of interests (Hall and Taylor, 1994, p.3). Political elites fight over the content of the constitution, which influences the distribution of power; and a range of options are available to the decision-makers. Attitudes and orientations concerning the distribution of power are at the center of our attention.

In Russian case, it is much more plausible to suppose that weaknesses of the political power, incapability of government to control the society, and lack of consensus or unclear vision of trajectory of developments of Russian Federation is connected with the political instability and political rule evasion. Some questions dealing with the study of the power of Russian political elites will concern us here: 1) What are the attitudes towards perspectives on power sharing and governmental control over Russia from the elite’s point of view? 2) What are the perspectives on developments of Russian Federation, in particular, is it likely that the disintegration or enlargement is the future scenarios for Russia from the elite’s views? (The last can be viewed as a matter of huge anxiety of consciousness of the Baltic States); 3) To what extent the ideological positions of elites towards power sharing and Russian space developments promote for consensus or conflict? By answering these questions, we will be in a better position to understand the actual manifestation of power: the role of the state and the power of the elites. The political power is ever concentrated in the hands of those who occupy the top positions in powerful and influential organizations or institutions. The data from our poll provide mixed results on power sharing (see, table 5). Based on our data, political power in Russia belongs to the president to a most of degree (60.9%). The declared in press and literature the weaknesses of presidential power (which is in many ways is the objective view) didn’t coincide with the perception of president’s power by political elites. One may argue that there is no a strong opposition to presidency, which could, to some extent, influence or compensate the failure the reforming politics. As pointed out Yavlinsky, the Kremlin is like a chameleon, able to change its political hue to protect itself against challenges to its authority without altering its underlying essence. This has allowed Yeltsin’s team to flexibly and effectively respond to emerging crises (Yavlinsky, 1997).

Table 5. Political power and governmental control in Russia by political parties (in %).

Institutions*

Political parties/movements **

A. Power in Russia belongs to…

Total

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

1.The reformers among communists

17.4

-

8.3

33.3

16.7

16.7

16.7

-

8.3

2.The former party apparatus

47.8

21.2

12.1

27.3

3.0

18.2

3.0

3.0

12.1

3. Democrats

21.7

20.0

20.0

13.3

-

20.0

13.3

13.0

-

4.The national-patriotic forces

4.3

-

-

66.7

-

33.3

-

-

-

5.The President

60.9

9.5

21.4

23.8

7.1

14.3

4.8

7.1

11.9

6. The oil-extracting complex

49.3

23.5

14.7

26.5

2.9

14.7

5.9

5.9

5.9

7. The military-industrial complex

17.4

8.3

16.7

50.0

8.3

16.7

-

-

-

8. The agrarian-industrial complex

7.4

-

20.0

60.0

-

20.0

-

-

9. The FSC ( KGB )

14.5

-

10.0

50.0

10.0

10.0

-

-

14.5

B. Government is controlling the country

33.3

4.3

34.8

21.7

13.0

8.7

8.7

-

8.7

* Questions: “Who has the real power in Russia?” “ Do you consider that the Russian Government is controlling the situation in Russia or is the situation not under control?” (In the table: “agree strongly” and “agree” are combined and presented.)

** List of parties: A - Communist party of Russian Federation; B - Our home is Russia; C - Yabloko; D - Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; E- Russian Regions; F - Agrarian party; G - Power - to the people; H - Independent Deputies;

Besides the presidency, as think elites, the real power in Russia belongs to the oil-extracting complex (49.3%), the former party apparatus (47.8%), democrats (21.7%), the reformers among communists (17.4%), the military-industrial complex (17.4%), the FSC (KGB) (14.5%), the agrarian-industrial complex (7.4%) and to the national-patriotic forces (4.3%). The picture is very similar in Latvia, as according the elite’s view the real power belongs overwhelmingly to the financial groups (for example, only 2.6% of Latvian deputies think that power belongs to parliament). The concentration of power in particular institutional bodies (predominately outside of constitutional accepted structures) reveals not only the real picture of powerful centers, but also highlights the main conflictual cleavages across the power in Russia in Latvia.

The important index of understanding of political power is its ability to control over the situation in the country. Only 33.3% of Russian political elites thought, that Russian government is controlling the country. The centrists are more convinced in power ability to control Russian society, more little think about power effectiveness the leftist and rightists. Meanwhile, the right-oriented political leaders are most convinced, then leftists, that Russian government pose over the situation n the country.

The attitudes, orientations and decisions of elite’s representatives towards post-soviet space are crucial determinants of the fundamental changes in Russian society. But uncertainties of Russian Federation are comprehensive. As noted Kaganskij, the space of Russia is unclear, unstable and deprived of unity (Kaganskij, 1997). The Russian space body is extremely extensive polarized, in which the center (Moscow city area) plays the dominant role; vertical and horizontal ties are fragmented, all the internal differences are stronger then of external, at the same time, the external attitudes are more stronger then internal. The question of what kind of federation Russia is to be (and indeed, whether it is to be a federal system at all) has been a pressing concern, as argue Stoner-Weiss (Stoner-Weiss, 1997). Actually, not a single of indication of Russian federation is occurring, and the center-periphery problem of attitudes is at the heart of Russian politics. The “catastrophic” or “chaotic” visions on Russia’s process are the popular descriptive cliche in the literature.

The important things here that the common image of Russia, the pattern of its developments and vision of on-going and future construction of Federalism is utmost contradictory as among public society, as among political leaders. According to Babaeva’s parliamentary elite survey in Russia (Babaeva, 1996, 1998), because the Russian elites have no sophisticated view of the present, they have only vague ideas ad images of the future, which often boil down to saying “more of the same”. The important finding in Babaeva’s survey, where have been used the open-question interview’s method, is that images of the future of Russian political elites are likewise colorless and unappealing, and often vaguely catastrophic (Babaeva, 1998).

Table 6. Developments of Russian Federation from Russian and Latvian elite’s views (%).

Variables*

Russian elites

Latvian elites

A.1. Russia will stay within the present borderlines

69.6

64.4

2. Some regions get independence

24.6

34.2

3. Russia will disintegrate completely

7.2

54.0

4. Enlargement of Russian Federation is possible

66.7

2.6

B. Countries or regions will be involved in the enlargement of Russian Federation:

a. Latvia

2.9

17.1

b. Estonia

2.9

47.4

c. Lithuania

2.9

48.7

d. Ukraine

37.7

32.9

e. Byelorussia

60.9

35.5

f. Armenia

13.0

35.5

g. Georgia

8.7

34.2

h. Kirgizia

17.4

34.2

i. Kazakhstan

34.8

34.2

C. Factors affecting on the process of enlargement of Russian Federation:

a. the economical interest of Russia

58.0

35.5

b. NATO expansion to the East

29.0

48.7

c. Common will and desire of the ex-USSR states

59.4

47.4

d. the defense of ethnic minorities of the ”near abroad”

37.7

19.7

e. the military interests of Russia

30.4

34.2

*Questions: “Do you consider that Russia will stay within the present borderlines or will some regions get independence or will disintegrate completely?”; “Do you consider that an enlargement of the Russian Federation is possible?” ”If you consider that an enlargement of the Russian Federation is possible, by which of the following countries or regions it will be involved?”; “What factors will, in your opinion, affect on the process of enlargement of the Russian Federation?” (One answer in each line)”. (In the table “agree strongly” and “agree” are combined and presented.)

Other scholars report a more optimistic picture of the federal developments in Russia. As argued Arutunjan, Russia does not disintegrate, in its worst case, Russia may only “crumble” from the borders of state.

Understandable, those visions of political elites, especially on the problem of strong authority and regional attitudes play a fundamental role in Russian geopolitical politics. Consensus of political elites over the federal arrangement and its developments is the substantial and necessary condition for a stable federalism and strong attitudes between center and periphery.

In what way does the attitudes of political elites apply for the developments of federalism in Russia? Table 6 reports the attitudes of political elites towards the process developments of Russian Federation. Taking in account the assumptions about the plurality of elite’s orientations and beliefs towards the present and future paths of Russia, respondents were suggest to answer for different questions, concerning the possible scenarios of Russian developments. According to our data, 69.6% of elite members considered that Russia would stay within the present borderlines (39% of mass people thinks in this way). 24.6% of elite groups and 24% of mass people consider that some regions get independence. 7.2% of elites and 21% of mass people think that Russia will disintegrate completely. Obviously, that elite is more optimistic then the common attitudes in the society.

With the aid of analysis of elite’s vision on Russian developments, two items were selected to form the picture in more details. This item included questions about the involving the particular countries or regions in the enlargement of Russian Federation; factors affecting on the process of enlargement of Russia. The basic responses to these two questions are presented in table 7. Data indicates that elites are strongly supporting the idea of enlargement of Russian Federation by, first of all, including the Byelorussia (60.9%). Ukraine (37.7%), Kazakhstan (34.8%) and by Kirgizia (17.4%). To less extent, Armenia (13%) and Georgia (8.7%) are considered as the countries for the enlargement model of Russia.

The question of special interest concerns with understanding of the reasons of possible enlargement of Russian Federation. The items were predominately tied up with the social problem of large anxiety in a society. According to elite’s perceptions, factors affecting on the process of enlargement of Russian Federation are: common will and desire of the ex-USSR states (59.4%), the economical interest of Russia (58.0%), the defense of ethnic minorities of the ”near abroad” (37.7%), the military interests of Russia (30.4%) and NATO expansion to the East (29.0%). There are clear polarized attitudes towards the understandings the reason of possible enlargement of Russia. The centrists are more pragmatic and motivated for enlargement of Russian Federation the right and left oriented leaders. The basic responses to the observed items indicate that the ideological reason for the possible including the particular countries during the enlargement of Russian federation is high and a little prevailed over the economical factor. The ideological factor (common will and desire of the ex-USSR states), that is very strong correlates with elite’s political party slogans, plays a strategic role for decision-makers. Obviously, Byelorussia and Kazakhstan pose a more plausible result in politics of enlargement of Russian federation.

But in sum, the elite’s responses suggest that political power have a quite dispersed character in which the elite’s ideological identification plays a substantial role. The real center of power belongs to the institutions located in the non-constitutional arrangements. The more important thing is that all political elite’s representatives agree in a position of weak ability of Russian government to control the situation in the country. Weaknesses of government, absence of independence court, the powerful administration of President, or so-called “pocket service of Kremlin” (J.M. Bagraev), unclear vision of Russian federalism are extremely intensify the growth of anticonstitutional structures and deviant behavior.

Value-attitudes and policy priorities of political elites.

Elite’s value-attitudes towards political system are an important part of the whole integrational process in the society. Elite consensus around the basic democratic norms and values may be regarded as vital for the functioning of the democratic rule (Dahl, 1967). Elite integration by attitudes towards the fundamental democratic political norms and values, by ideological identifications and policy preferences could be regarded as a precondition of the democratic stabilization and consolidation. This means that at the personal level none of the political elite’s representative doubts the concept of democracy as “the only game in town.” All members of elite groups must follow the democratic procedures and accept the equality among the competitive political struggle. At the structural level of elites it must be a political and value consensus which means that none of the parliament’s political parties, blocks and political movements goes against the regime and government, in Sartory’s words (1987), there is no anti-system party of the government.

One can say that elite’s consensual unity is existing at the stage of initial settlement in both Russia and Latvia. The last may be explained not by the typical difficulties of the whole process of transition changes, but rather by the weaknesses of the governmental power and deep conflicts among the power groups. Despite of the extremely low level of elite’s satisfaction with the development of democracy in Russia — no more then17% (according Russian and the Latvian elite’s point of view), about 50% of the Russian political leaders generally make up the right decisions for the country as they reported during the survey. There is a broad “sparse” of value preferences and ideological identifications among Russian political elites, which makes an impediment for successful consensus framework. A lot of deputies of Russian Duma express the unclear visions on economical and political reforms, fragmented images of the regime characteristics and models of developments of Russia. Partly, the lack of workable alternatives and social strategies may explain it. There are also a lot of strong feelings towards support of state regulations and authoritarian modes of attitudes and behavior.

The fragmented value-attitudes and ideological polarization among and between political elites are the barriers against the sharing strategy in democratic goals and open-markets principles, and destabilize the society.

In the field of theories of democracy and democratic transition, there are a lot of discussions about whether the democratic leadership needs a kind of desired values and orientations which are claimed to be more or less conditional for the prospects of democracy and elites consensus (Dahl, 1971; Pennock, 1979). A democratic theory is defined by key values favorable for the survival of a democratic regime. The regime values that have been held by an overwhelming majority of the people among democracies include such fairy coherent fundamental constructions as freedom, property and equality. The belief in political equality in a sense that every citizen should have an equal chance to participate and influence in government policy, is often proclaimed as a basic democratic orientations (Dahl, 1971). In order to be labeled as a democratic leadership, there must be demonstrated the positive attitudes towards acceptance of norms and procedures of political equality. The selected value items measuring the elite’s attitudes towards political equality is: “Every citizen should have an equal chance to influence government policy;” “People ought to be allowed to vote even if they cannot do it qualified enough.”

Table 7. Political equality, individual versus collective values by ideology (%).

Russia

Latvia (1993)

Latvia (2000)

A. Political Equality

1. An equal chance to influence government policy.

73.5

83

97.5

2. Right to vote even if people cannot do it qualified enough.

84.1

83

81.5

B. Individual versus collective values

3. Income must be unequal

50.7

90

-

4. Private ownership in business and industry should be increased.

29.0

90

-

5. Individuals should take more responsibility for there own welfare.

26.1

62

-

6. Competition is good.

53.6

93

-

* In the table the codes: “agree strongly”, “agree” and “a great deal”, “quite a lot” are combined and presented.)

A second classical cleavage within democratic theory concerns the individual versus collective values. The competitive models of control and distribution of income and wealth of individuals for the benefit of the society (Macpherson, 1977; Dahl, 1982, 1985) are often contradicted with the values of economical freedom and property rights (Pennock, 1979). To measure individuals versus collective values, the survey’s strategy was constructed by the next variables dealing with role of individual or the state taking responsibility for: the distribution of income, ownership in business and industry, caring for the individual’s welfare, competition. All these variables, which were measured on a scale from 1 to 10, contain the following items: 1) Income must be equal/ Individual initiative must be stimulated materially; 2) Private ownership in business and industry should be increased / State ownership in business and industry should be increased; 3) Individuals should take more responsibility for their own welfare/ the state should take more responsibility for the welfare of people; 4) Competition is good; It stimulates peoples for active work and makes to search for new ideas and possibilities / Competition is harmful. It makes people to be evil one to another. To what extent do political elites share the values of political equality? The acceptance of personal equality in a sense that “Every citizen should have an equal chance to influence government policy”, is most highly agreed upon political elites; 73.5% of the interviewed leaders reported they are consigned to this value of democratic leadership in Russia and 97.5% in Latvia. Even thou, 84.4% of Russian respondents and 81.5% in Latvia agree that “people ought to be allowed to vote even if they cannot do it qualified enough.” The centric and pro-government parties in Parliament are more committed towards political equality, then polarized left/right specter. Regarding the elite’s values, which are important for functioning of liberalist democracy, there is an observed shift toward acceptance of democratic preferences. In particular, these beliefs include more tolerance of others’ opinion, more favorable attitudes toward opinions and conflict prevention and resolving conflict through continuous contacts between interest groups. The second block of items, presented in the table 7, concerns with testing of opinions on how elite is coping with individual or collective values on behalf of state regulative role of economic attitudes, property rights and welfare. Across all 4 questions opinion divides almost equalize in the two value-clusters: more then half of deputies in Russia and 93% in Latvian elite in 1993 endorse an individual position on necessity of competition and on the inequalities of income distribution. At the same time, the second cluster shows that only around 30% of deputies endorse the private ownership in business and industry should be increased, and individuals should take more responsibility for their own welfare. Obviously, the attitudes towards individual alternatives (unequal distribution of income and competition) are asymmetric unite with the strong emphasis of the state regulative role in economy. Answering on the question what should be the role of the state and the market solving the socio-economic problems, it was clear picture in Russia on predominant solving by the state of economic growth (76%), energy (67%), transport (43%) and health care (56%). Meanwhile, the state role was minimizing when the questions were concerned with environment protection (20%) and food (7%). Surprisingly, that 75% of the respondents endorse the position that the market must solve the problem of pensions. The endorsement of state provision for the basic material security of the individual supports collective value of “equality in poverty”. Divisions on the research questions demonstrate the polarity of individuals and higher group of collectivists among the political elite. Russian political elites seemed to be more intensively bound to political values of democracy then to the economical values of marked attitudes. It could be portrayed as rather egalitarian and hostile to the liberalization of economy and individual values. Elite groups tended to perceive social and economical relations as conflictual and asymmetrical, accepted more importance of the state ownership and responsibility for the welfare of the people, and, from the other side, attached the value of unequal distribution of income. There are some main conclusions about political values and policy preferences of Russian political elites, which comes from our analysis. A consensus about political equality, some of democratic social values as inequality of income distribution and necessity of competition is widely shared among Russian political elites. All Russian deputies share beliefs about the fundamental political values of political equality. To some extent may be argued about consensual feature of Russian elite. Meanwhile, there is substantial support among elite’s representatives in priority of state regulation and responsibility of economy and individual welfare. Actually, there is a wide difference in a sense of ideological identification towards political beliefs and orientations. Not surprisingly, that left-oriented elites are less connected with the values of market attitudes and individual competition. Partly, the fragmentation of value attitudes of Russian political elites may be explained by the weak and insufficient structural arrangements. Weak institutions of power and undeveloped democratic procedures are transferred into the attitudinal inconsistency among political elites. Political elite’s groups perceived a variety of social relationships in asymmetrical way. The attachment to market values and, especially towards the process of privatization by the political leaders indicates a great feeling of anxiety over the corruption. The same could be seen in the leader’s preferences, where the social problem over the criminality, drug consumption and corruption are most acute and important. Summing up, there is no consensus over the political and social agenda, political preferences are often compete with each others, which may be promote for the open value-conflict.

Compared with Russia, the Latvian political elites demonstrated non-egalitarian and individualistic attitudes. To a large extent the Latvian political elites are consensual on basic values; highly value models in Latvia is rather stable since 1993 till nowadays.

Policy priorities.

Policy decision is the process of bringing a particular set of problems into the political agenda, constructing priorities for the short and long time, selecting the mechanisms for implementation and realization. In a time of a weak power and ineffective institutional arrangements, the political attitudes of elites towards priorities of the social issues in the political agenda are of special interests. The research questions here are to what extent the elite representatives are worried to particular social problems? Then we will present the mode of implementation of social issues from the elite’s point of view. Particular, the preferences over the marked or state instruments will be concentrate in the space of factors, which concern with the socioeconomic reforms and, from the other side, pose a real threat to peace and security in Russia and Latvia. The important thing is there that policy preferences and options of solution are a strong indication of the direction in which society is moving toward concrete model of society.

Political elites are facing various social problems, which are dealing with essential interests of society. Detailed results clearly show that the general problems, associated with the crime, unemployment and inflation, young generation, education and ethnic conflict are most worried among political elites. The lesser importance attached to human rights and freedom of individual. Other types of problems with lower priorities are related with social fragmentation and sexual equality, which indirectly effects the people life.

Table 8. Factors pose a real threat to peace and security in Russia and Latvia (%) *.

Question: Do you think any of the following factors pose a real threat to peace and security?

Factors

Russia

Latvia

1. The West-European countries

0.0

7.9

2. USA

24.6

9.2

3. The external politics in Russia

-

80.3

4. The internal politics in Russia

-

77.7

5. CIS politics

-

63.2

6. The ethnic conflicts in Russia

75.4

-

7. Immigrants, refugees from other countries

13.0

67.1

8. Terrorism

71.0

89.5

9. Drug consumption, criminality

78.3

93.4

10.Corruption

81.2

93.4

* In the table the code: “present strong threat” is combined and presented.

In table 8, there are data on elite’s preferences towards factors, which pose a real threat to peace and security in Russia and Latvia. One may see that once again there is a clear tendency to put policy issues related with corruption, drug consumption, criminality, the ethnic conflicts and terrorism in Russia and Latvia at the top of the issue agenda. Obviously, the general problem of corruption and criminality are concern to the whole society, which may benefit from addressing these questions by leaders into the mass people. At the same time, typically for Latvian elites the internal and external politics in Russia brings a threat to the peace and security in the Latvian society.

The purpose here is to analyze which countries or regions are perceived as the desired models for the developments in Russia and Latvia for political elites. The option of regime model or structures means elites seek the perspectives for making their social policy.

Table 9. Attitudes towards economic partners of Russia and Latvia (%) *.

Question: “Please use the scale from 1 to 5 to express your opinion about how significant the following countries seem to you as a economical partners of Russia? “

Countries

Russia

Latvia

1. Great Britain

50.7

-

2. USA

73.9

59.2

3. Denmark

24.6

-

4. France

60.9

56.5

5. Latvia

23.2

-

6. Estonia

20.3

90.8

7. Lithuania

20.6

90.8

8. Norway

21.7

-

9. Finland

44.9

-

10. People’s Republic of China

66.7

17.1

11. Germany

76.8

90.7

12. Sweden

46.4

-

13. Scandinavian countries

-

85.5

* In the table the codes from 1 to 2 as “very important” is only combined and presented

Based on the supports towards democratic values, one may expect that countries with democratic regime characteristics will be preferred models of development among political elites. The political elites were asked which countries are regarded as significant partners of Russia and Latvia. The political significance comes from the preference of model of society and importance of cooperation with particular state by political leaders. Table 9 provides the vision of elites about partnership with various countries. There is substantial desire for Russia to cooperate with Germany, USA, Republic of China and France. A bit lesser, elites are willing to cooperate with Great Britain and Norway. But Scandinavian countries, as well as the Baltic States, are evaluated more little in Russia then other regions. On the contrary, Latvian political elites express their strong desire for cooperation with the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Estonia and Lithuania.

At the same time, there is substantial cleavage in the scope of attitudes towards political and economic partnership with various states among political elites according to their ideological views. In distinction to the right and left ideological oriented leaders, the centrist leaders (more then 50%) are considerably more pragmatic and rational towards partnership with the different countries. One may conclude, that positive orientation for partnership with the countries of different regime is very high among Russian and Latvian political elites. Elites are wish to cooperate as with traditional partners (China, Germany, France), as with rich and powerful country as USA, which may transfer the resources and stability. By defining the priorities for partner attitudes, political leadership demonstrates their vision of national interests.

Conclusions.

The present article theoretically and empirically investigated the attitudes of Russian and Latvian political elites towards cooperation, based on formalized interview-survey in national Parliaments. More specifically, our research was focused on political stability in Russia and Latvia as a precondition for integration and favorable cooperation.

Empirically, one of main results was to confirm that Russian political leadership places the Baltic States on a scale of an economical partnership as an important priority. Our data also correspond that elite’s recognition the democratic values and rule of law.

Our analytical model focused on major determinants of political stability in Russia and Latvia: the state monopoly of political power, legitimacy and trust in government. Empirically, the survey results are discovered in details that political power in Russia and Latvia has a fragmented and dispersed character. The more important thing is that all Russian political elite’s representatives agree in a weak ability of government to control the situation in the country. Weaknesses and distrust in government, lack of independence court, the powerful administration of President, unclear vision of Russian federalism and absence of value consensus among elites are the sources of instability and serve as a barrier against cooperation.

Overall, as Russian as Latvian political elites gave every evidence of being faithful to democratic process and integration strategy, and in this respect its central importance in the transition to democracy was fully validated. The elite commitment to democratic regime and value models may constitute a crucial basis for Russia and Latvia.

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