Social rights in the context of new powers of the President

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Author: Anita Soboleva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2020-3-82-96

Keywords: constitutional amendments; constitutionalism; legitimization; powers of the Russian President; separation of powers; social rights; social welfare state


The amendments of 2020 to the Russian Constitution changed the model of separation of powers by strengthening the role of the Presidents as a real head of the executive and by weakening the role of the Chairman of the Government, introduced additional guarantees for the President in case of impeachment or initiation of criminal prosecution, allowed him to stay in office for two more terms and also made the judiciary, including the Constitutional court, and the prosecution authorities dependent on him through the nomination and dismissal procedure. The move from mixed system of government to the presidential one was introduced in the public discourse as an insignificant and purely technical one, while the main emphasis was made on social and ideological blocks of newly introduced amendments. The necessity of them was justified in mass media and public statements of the government officials by the desire to improve the social security of Russian citizens, guarantee more serious protection of the state’s sovereignty from the foreign influence in the legal filed and constitutionalize traditional values, including the memory about the victory and heroism in Great Patriotic War as well as recognition of marriage solely as a union of man and woman. The article contains analysis of the so-called “social amendments” in the context of the theoretical views of legal scholars on social rights and casts doubts on constitutionalization of these rights in the chapter on federalism vis-à-vis their declaration in the first two chapters of the Constitution, which contains the list of fundamental rights, including social, economic and cultural ones. It is argued, that social policy issues could have been resolved within the existing framework of 1993 Constitution and the executive had enough powers to deal with them. In addition, the principle of solidarity of generations as a characteristics of the pension system, if introduced to the Constitution, would deprive the government of flexibility in the adjustment of this system to the economic situation, employment market and social structure of Russian population. Other proposed amendments are also disputable, because justiciable rights are now mixed in one chapter with norms, declaring goals, and such approach devaluates the text of Constitution as a directly applicable act. The indispensable connection of human rights with separation of powers is demonstrated in terms of classical constitutionalism. The analysis shows that social bloc of amendments was used to mask the amendments on separation of powers, which strengthen the powers of the President and allow the acting President to stay at power for two additional terms.

About the author: Anita Soboleva – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Philology, LL.M., Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Soboleva A. (2020) Sotsial'nye prava v kontekste novykh polnomochiy Presidenta? [Social rights in the context of new powers of the President]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.3, pp.82–96. (In Russian).


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