Control over the security services is a key ingredient of political survival in authoritarian regimes. This is particularly true during periods of leadership succession and high political uncertainty. In this paper, we compare the strategy used by Vladimir Putin towards the siloviki – the Russian security services – with that employed by Xi Jinping towards the Chinese security services. We find that in both countries, the security services have been significantly strengthened in recent years, while at the same time extensive anti-corruption campaigns have been used to eliminate key officials within the security structures. We argue that both developments can be seen as elements of a strategy to increase control over the public, while eliminating potential competition from regime insiders, in view of a deteriorating economic situation, and the constitutional (or quasi-constitutional) term limits faced by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in 2024 and 2022, respectively.
В статье анализируется, как избирательная политика российского государства предопределила результаты выборов в Государственную Думу 2016 года. Факторами, приводящими к этойпредсказуемости, являются: смешанная избирательная система с партией победы в более чем 90% мажоритарных округов по системе относительного большинства; джерримендеринг при нарезке избирательных округов; специфическое отнесение к избирательным округам избирателей за пределами Российской Федерации; перенос выборов на сентябрь, и, соответственно, снижение явки в городах, наиболее подверженных протестному голосованию; «договорные кампании» и неготовность системной оппозиции к серьезной конкуренции; новые запреты и ограничения на политическую конкуренцию, в результате чего партии и кандидаты, способные действительно противостоять режиму, лишены доступа к выборам; кампания за бойкот среди протестных избирателей, де-факто поддерживаемая политтехнологамирежима; слабые кампании демократических партий.
The transition in Russia to a partially market-driven economy has failed to produce sustained and broad-based economic growth. The gains of economic growth are concentrated at the top of the income distribution, leaving a sizable part of the population trapped in conditions of low incomes. While abject poverty has largely been eliminated, around 40% of the population struggle to purchase more than basic consumer necessities. Spending on food occupies nearly half of household budgets for the lowest income decile. State social spending, which constitutes an increasing share of total income, is relatively non-progressive. Most is not means-based, but preserves the categorical benefits structure of the Soviet era. A combination of the bureaucratic-authoritarian institutional framework for decision-making and the strongly rent-based relationship between economic and political elites, severely limits policy options.
Russia’s political system must be understood as inherently dynamic, with constant regime change being essential to how the regime operates and survives. This regime change does not proceed monotonically toward ever tighter authoritarianism, but can move in both liberal and repressive directions at different times. While on aggregate the trend has been to greater authoritarianism under Putin, certain liberalizing moves have also been important that are meaningful for how ordinary Russians and elites experience their own regime, and greater repressiveness is not foreordained. We document two forms of endemic regime dynamism in Russia, each involving contingent, improvisational efforts at short-term recalibration in response to crises that are both endogenous and exogenous to the regime: structural improvisation and ideational improvisation.
This Special Issue is devoted to Russia’s welfare state during the years of economic stagnation that began in 2013. Twelve experts assess social conditions and reforms in poverty, labor market, pension, housing and education policies. They show that social mobility has stagnated in conditions of deep inequality and just-above-poverty incomes for many. Innovative labour market and anti-poverty policies are hampered by low productivity and wages, both features of an oligarchic economic model that blocks competition and development. Welfare commitments heavily burden the state budget, producing reforms that transfer costs to users. The authors find that popular protests have forced government to partially mitigate these reforms. Putin’s government appears trapped between oligarchic economic interests and popular expectations for welfare. The final article compares China’s comparatively successful welfare trajectories with those of Russia, and proposes an agenda for further research.
The paper investigates the link between the sub-national variation of political regimes in a (at the federal level) non-democratic country and the appointments of federal officials in the sub-national provinces. In particular, we look at the appointment of the chief federal inspectors to the regions in Putin’s Russia in 2000–2012. Our main research question is whether appointment patterns can be explained by top-down concerns of the central government willing to keep control over the most unruly regions or by bottom-up self-selection of bureaucrats belonging to influential groups into more attractive positions more suitable for rent-seeking. The advantage of our case is that data we have at hand allow us to distinguish these two logics. Our results indicate that for the Russian chief federal inspectors in 2000–2012 bottom-up self-selection appears to be the more plausible explanation of the link between sub-national political regimes and appointment patterns.