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Regular version of the site

Article

Authoritarian Amendments: Legislative Institutions as Intraexecutive Constraints in Post-Soviet Russia

Comparative Political Studies. 2020. Vol. 53. No. 9. P. 1417-1454.

Why are executive bills sometimes amended significantly in authoritarian legislatures? Bill change clashes with the conventional picture of parliaments in nondemocracies as “rubber stamp” bodies. Recent work challenging the “rubber stamp” model suggests that cases of amendment are the result of legislator influence. This article proposes an alternative argument: Amendment can result from intraexecutive policy-making processes, unresolved in the prelegislative, cabinet-level stage. Factionalised executives can use legislative institutions to help overcome information asymmetries, as well as the commitment and monitoring problems involved in collective decision making. The article evaluates this alternative account using a combination of statistical and case-study analyses, drawing on both crossnational and fine-grained data from contemporary Russia. The findings contribute to our knowledge of authoritarian legislatures, policy-making processes in nondemocracies, and Russian politics.