Mend or end: theoretical and regulatory framework of Russia’s local government evolution
The perception of local government in Russian municipal theory has been for quite a while limited to interpreting its essence as either a form of local autonomy and democracy or a mechanism for the provision of local services. The latter view has been recently supported by a trend of professionalization of municipal administration mechanism. Another trend, reflected in the local government theory, as well as in law and its judicial interpretation, signals the departure from the values of local government’s institutional and functional autonomy. These two trends, combined, form the new theoretical-legal paradigm of local government evolution in Russia.
The article examines relevant amendments in law and doctrine and concludes that although they are driven by the objective socioeconomic, political and legal factors, the merger of local and state governments within a single system of public authority should envisage not subordination, but rather closer ties and coordinated interaction between the state and municipal levels through efficient and competent professional managers. This should also ensure the positioning of local government as a pronounced element of federative relations.
The authors of the article maintain, however, that further development of forms of direct democracy and public participation at submunicipal level is needed to ensure harmonization of all of the elements of local government, and to affirm the self-government nature of the institution.