Putin’s power

By Reinout Huizer

Russia’s political landscape is changing and the political asymmetry shifting. Over the past decade Vladimir Putin has been expanding his power and he has been redesigning the institutions in order to do so. Putin has served two terms as prime minister and currently is in office as the president of Russia for the second time. It has been argued that the increase in power of an actor is closely related to path dependence. Vladimir Putin is paving a one-way street with him leading its direction, his direction.

The allocation of political authority to particular actors, Vladimir Putin in the case of Russia, is a key source of positive feedback. In Politics in Time Paul Pierson argues that positive feedback can be seen as a form of path dependence and that one should focus on the dynamics of self-reinforcement in political processes. Looking at the self-reinforcing dynamics in Russian politics the focus is directly on the changes and decisions Putin has made.

Putin has been trying to strengthen the federal government. He has tried to change the balance between the center and periphery by shifting the power to the Kremlin. By reducing the political asymmetry regional power will be reduced. This change has had serious effects on local communities because they lost power and with that their voice to speak up. The centralization of the Russian government has reduced the influence of smaller political entities (or opposition) something that is favorable for Putin.

To conclude, due to its current leader Russia’s power relations are becoming more and more uneven. Based on the theory of positive feedback these power asymmetries will continue to increase and power relations will become less visible. In other words, Putin will gain more power and use it in order to sustain and strengthen his position.