О состоянии и перспективах политической регионалистики
The article discusses the contemporary state of political regional science in Russia. The author outlines three approaches towards the key notion of political region (political administrative, political system and political sociological), based on its own region-making factors, such as administrative borders, political interests and political identities. The author points out two main parts of political regional science; these are comparative federalism and regionalism on one hand and cross-regional comparative politics on the other hand. The key concepts of political regional science are intergovernmental (or inter-level in broader sense) relations and regional politics. The successful development of Russian political regional science needs for the integration with the Western political science and the resolution of contradictions with some of its traditions.
Intergovernmental Reforms in the Russian Federation: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? is a critical analysis of Russia’s intergovernmental reform program which began in the early 1990s. It assesses the effects of a broad range of reforms adopted over two tumultuous decades during which the Russian Federation experienced significant, and at times drastic, political regime changes, coupled with a similarly turbulent economic growth trajectory. This environment reshaped intergovernmental relations, requiring certain fiscal responsibilities to be delegated to the subnational levels. These reforms, however, were not always accompanied by the kinds of administrative and political structures required to support a truly devolved system of intergovernmental fiscal relations. As this study indicates, in recent years there has been a tendency to recentralize some powers that had been granted to subnational governments under earlier reforms—a trend that may call into question the future of fiscal decentralization in the federation. Moreover, the current global economic downturn has had a significant effect on Russia’ economic growth, largely because of the country’s overdependence on oil, gas, and mineral exports. It is likely that in the present economic climate the political regime will be inclined to further limit subnational autonomy.
This article describes the results of sociological research on estimation of condition and development prospects of federalism in Russia, which was conducted by ZIRCON Research Group in January - May 2011. The opinion of population and elite groups of four regions about the foundations of Russian federalism development, administrative-territorial system of the Russian Federation and its principles, relations between subjects-regions and federative centre is presented. The results of the research indicate that at the moment a request for political and administrative autonomy of the subjects of the Federation is not obviously formulated by either citizens or regional elite groups. Regional identity is not a common phenomenon. The authors mark out necessary factors of federalism development: expansion of economic self-dependence of regions, existence of ethno-national or regional identity of citizens, democratization and decentralization.