The article analyzes the contribution of populism, as a phenomenon of public sentiments, to the dynamics of the recent constitutional transformations in Eastern Europe, post-Soviet space and Russia. The research shows that in all countries from the above mentioned regions populism gave impetus to the processes of constitutional retraditionalization, which affected different areas such as international and national law, constitutional identity, sovereignty, forms of government, and constitutional justice. Everywhere the mechanisms of constitutional retraditionalization invoked by populism are associated with the denial of the principles of ideological pluralism and political neutrality of constitutional justice. However, the methods used in different countries vary considerably and cover the entire gamut of technologies of constitutional revision, ranging from the “conservative revolution” through convoking a constituent assembly or holding a national referendum to changing preambles of constitutions, introducing constitutional amendments, judicial interpretation, as well as a wide range of extra-constitutional mechanisms. The choice of a particular technology or a combination of technologies is determined by the level of public support for populist forces and the degree of their control over government institutions. Populism in Eastern Europe, post-Soviet space and Russia performs different functions. In the first case populism represents a way of accumulating protest against imperfect institutions; in the second case populism is a form of a struggle for establishing rules of the game; in the third case populism performs a function of mobilizing support for the current political regime, or a means of legitimizing it. In Eastern Europe constitutional populism serves as an instrument for achieving power, in the post-Soviet region — for its redistribution, and in Russia — for its preservation. On the basis of these differences, the author identifies three versions of constitutional populism — “democratic” (Eastern Europe), “oligarchic” (post-Soviet region), and “plebiscite”, controlled and directed by power holders themselves (Russia).
The article traces possible channels of influence of a religious factor on the formation of a specific Russian version of socialism. Using the logics of the M. Weber's work "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", I. Zabaev reveals the categories that played a dominating role in the people's consciousness in the pre-revolutionary Russia. According to his conclusion, these categories were "obedience" and "resignation". It was obedience and resignation that assured the salvation (main value in Orthodoxy) of an Orthodox person. In everyday life such orientations were easily transformed into the readiness to obey the "superior". Once elaborated, they turned to be quite stable and, being separated from their religious roots, ensured a sort of asceticism on the secular path.
The article explains why the first attempt to introduce constitutional review in Russia failed. A simple model that predicts institutional characteristics of constitutional courts is devised based on configuration of elites that create the court and their prospects of keeping power. The case of Russia is examined against this model. I explain the existent departures from the predictions of the model by the fact that while playing with the court the elites also played other games which led them to making suboptimal decisions. Making too many of those (including making the court's powers excessively large and unspecified and nominating wrong justices) caused the project's failure.
From the mid-2000 the specter of hunger and shortages began to fade away. Paradoxically, in that context, the concept of “food security” became a central reference in political discourses. Simultaneously, the negotiations for Russia’s accession to the WTO were conducted. This concept appeared earlier in the 1990’s on the marginal wings of the political spectrum, in the political programmes of the communist party, struggling against liberalization programmes and transition policies. However, during the 1990’s, it has been keeping a low visibility and had no concrete legal prospects. Furthermore, the concept in itself does not belong to the lexicon of Russian agriculture and food policies. It emerged from the debate organized in the arenas of International Organizations, such as the FAO earlier in the 1970’s. The aim of this article is to unfold this paradox and to demonstrate how this concept circulated from the arenas of international public debate to specific domestic contexts and how it has been reformulated and translated by actors. Based on a constructivist epistemology, demonstrating the process of social and political construction of the economy, this research shows how public policies and reforms in the agricultural sector have been designed and discussed. Agriculture has been a major issue of public debate, agrarian lobby groups being very active in lobbying against liberalization, and WTO accession. They deeply shaped the global perception of Russian agriculture as a specific sector requiring enhanced state regulation and support. However, this perspective has not always been validated by state officials. We start from a review of the literature drawing the broad spectrum of available definitions for the concept of food security. We argue that according to the political balance of power, the concept’s content of food security has been substantially modified since 1990: during the transition period, social instability does not allow to adopt restrictive food policies. The context dramatically evolves in the 2000’s, when both trade liberalization processes and a sharp increase in food production legitimizes food security as a core component of National security.
Elaborating on the problematics of the political form that the author started in the series of his previous research papers, S.Kaspe addresses the topic of an autonomous subject i.e., the one who produces and establishes this form. Revealing the internal contingency of both notions that are firmly entrenched in the language of political philosophy and political science, the author shows that the widely spread hopes in Russia for the autonomy of a subject as the best means of correcting political form are poorly justified. According to Kaspe’s opinion, non-autonomous subjects within the autonomous political is the state that the Russian society should aspire to.
The authors analyze the state, dynamics and prospects of public policy in Russia. They use the data of a comparative study conducted in the regions. According to L.Nickovskaya and V.Yakimets during lately the public policy and the public sphere at large are in the situation of slow but persistent freezing caused by building of so called managed democracy. The authors try to prove that modern Russia needs a new type of political development that would much more appeal to solidary partnership and not to directive mobilization.
Continuing with the series of articles devoted to the problematique of political form, this time S. Kaspe addresses the issue of democracy. The author believes that the emptiness of the center (in Shils’ interpretation of the term) should be considered a “stable core” of the essentially contested and therefore extensible concept (and the project), or its fundamental characteristic, which remains unchanged despite all external transformations: “No one ... can imagine herself the sole spokesman for and translator of democratic values, the sole ruler and manager of democratic institutions, the sole prophet of democratic transcendence.” The roots of this normative statement are found in the field of political theology. The main (but not the only) means of its practical implementation are separation of powers and multi-party system. It is their combined effect that makes democracy although imperfect, but still rather effective way of protection against political evil.