Skip to content

Your Cart


You have 0 items in your cart.

Register Sign in Wishlist

Democracy Derailed in Russia
The Failure of Open Politics

$46.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: August 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521618960

$ 46.99 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Although Russia experienced dramatic political breakthroughs in the late 1980s and early 1990s after shedding the shackles of Soviet rule, it subsequently failed to continue progressing toward democracy. M. Steven Fish offers an explanation for the direction of regime change in post-Soviet Russia, relying on cross-national comparative analysis as well as on in-depth field research in Russia. Fish demonstrates that Russia's failure to democratize has three causes: too much economic reliance on oil, too little economic liberalization, and too weak a national legislature.

    • Empirically rigorous explanation for one of the most pressing problems of our time
    • Uses cross-national comparative analysis as well as in-depth field research in Russia
    • Theoretically original explanation that challenges other theories on Russia's failure to democratize
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "M. Steven Fish's book, Democracy Derailed in Russia, offers a lively, original account of the failure of democratization in post-Soviet Russia. Fish uses a wide-angled comparative lens to identify the factors explaining the emergence of oligarchic capitalism and an increasingly closed polity in Russia. The findings are provocative and will stimulate considerable debate." Thomas Remington, Emory University

    "By carefully comparing Russia's experience with that of other new democracies, M. Steven Fish has zeroed in on the factors that have impeded Russia's democratic development. Especially original and stimulating is the discussion of oil in Russia and the comparisons drawn with other petro-states throughout the world. Even scholars who disagree with Fish's analysis will want to engage it." Jeffrey Kopstein, University of Toronto

    "Building on a decade and a half of intensive research on post-communist democratic transition and Russian politics, M. Steven Fish presents a thought-provoking analysis of the trajectory of regime change in post-Soviet Russia. Fish argues that the time has come to declare Russia's post-communist democratic experiment a failure: Russia under Putin is now an authoritarian regime. But he insists that many widespread explanations for democratic failure in Russia are simply wrong.(continued underneath)

    Russia did not fail because of its Orthodox religious culture, its multi-ethnicity, its Leninist legacies, or its decision to implement radical economic reform. Rather, in comparative perspective, Russia's authoritarianism today can be traced largely to three factors: its dependence on raw material exports, the stateas continuing control over most economic resources, and superpresidentialism. Fish's book will become a standard reference in the fields of Russian and post-Communist politics, and a must read for those interested in comparative democratization in general." Stephen Hanson, University of Washington

    "Why has the global wave of democratization produced so many semi democracies" that are perched precariously between authoritarian and fully democratic politics? By drawing on the details of Russian political and economic evolution and by placing the Russian experience in comparative perspective, M. Steven Fish provides a compelling answer that spans the two dominant approaches in comparative politics to explaining regime trajectories--the political economy of reform and the design of political institutions. For Fish, Russian democracy has been compromised by too much oil, too little economic reform, and too weak a legislature. It is an answer that promises to travel well." Valerie Bunce, Cornell University

    "This is an important work, and should be read both by Russia specialists and those interested in comparative democratization. It is very well written and its presentation is easy to follow, making it amenable for undergraduate course use as well. With this book, Fish has raised the bar for future work on Russian politics." - Perspectives on Politics, Paul Kubicek, Oakland University

    "Fish's Democracy Derailed is still one of the most creative and analytically insightful books published to date on Russia's post-communist political development. There is no doubt that Fish's conclusions will play a prominent role in debates about democratization and post-communist politics for years to come." - Leah Gilbert, Ph.D. student in Government at Georgetown University

    "...this is a good piece of empirical work on contemporary Russia politics. Provocative in style, the book can be recommended for discussion by upper-level undergraduates and postgraduates studying Russian politics, comparative democratization, and the politics of transformation in the former communist world. Many themes in the book provide a good springboard for class discussions. There is an excellent bibliography and the author points readers in the direction of opposing views."
    --David Lane, University of Cambridge, Slavic and East European Journal

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521618960
    • length: 336 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 28 b/w illus. 42 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Some concepts and how they apply to Russia
    3. Symptoms of the failure of democracy
    4. The Russian condition in global perspective
    5. The structural problem: grease and glitter
    6. The policy problem: economic statism
    7. The institutional problem: superpresidentialism
    8. Can democracy get back on track?

  • Author

    M. Steven Fish, University of California, Berkeley
    M. Steven Fish is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2000–1 he was a Fulbright fellow and Visiting Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the European University at St Petersburg. He is the author of Democracy from Scratch: Opposition and Regime in the New Russian Revolution (1995) and a co-author of Postcommunism and the Theory of Democracy (2001). He has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, East European Constitutional Review, East European Politics and Societies, Europe-Asia Studies, the Journal of Democracy, Post-Soviet Affairs, Slavic Review, World Politics and numerous edited volumes.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.