Authoritarian Modernization in Russia: Ideas, Institutions, and Policies
Chapter presents a balance sheet of the effects of Russia's trajectory on the state property rights and the rule of law in light of international comparisons. It draws certain parallels between Russia and its post-Soviet neighbors, as well as authoritarian states of the Middle East, and reaches rather gloomy conclusions. There are copious evidence for the argument that during 2000's and especially the 2010's Russia experienced major institutional decay with regard to its legal and economic environment, which coincided with the decline of political freedoms due to increasing authoritarian trends. The chapter observes that the recent rise of the predatory state in Russia is deeply founded in its past in a path-dependent manner, and is reflected in the attitude and perceptions of many Russian citizens.
This chapter seeks to provide a detailed account of the policy process that led to the adoption of the pension reform in Russia in 2001. Focusing on the major actors involved in the elaboration of the reform concept and their preferences, I show that the 2001 Russian pension reform appeared to be a compromise squared for the liberal insiders of Kasyanov’s government and, most of all, for Mikhail Dmitriev, a major driver and proponent of the market-oriented reform. As the 2000-2001 attempts to reform pensions in Russia were not the first of such endeavours, a previous attempt to introduce a model of privatization into the Russian pension system, carried out by the “young reformers” government in 1997-1998, is also examined in this chapter. This analysis helps us to identify the network of policy actors involved in the bargaining at the turn of the century (namely, distinguishing the “old” bureaucracy from the Ministry of Labour and the liberal reformers who were invited by Anatoly Chubais from the outside to elaborate the reform). Also, I show how the “window of opportunities” which opened when Vladimir Putin became the Russian president in spring 2000, in fact, limited the liberal reformers’ room for manoeuvre as the newly elected president chose to stake on the “old” bureaucracy as the backbone of the regime in the earliest stage of his presidency.
The drive for “authoritarian modernization” provides incentives for the government to bypass democratic institutions and circumvent public discussions, similarly to what happened in education reform in the 2000s; or, alternatively, the government would go for a partial policy compromise, which may have satisfied major interest groups at the expense of policy efficiency, similarly to the case of the 2000-2001 pension reform. However, the 2000-2001 labor reform in Russia (analysed in this chapter) was adopted with the genuine use of democratic mechanisms and procedures. Moreover, the reformers proved successful in the process of selecting among policy alternatives and building a coalition to support the reform, which they managed to accomplish with only relatively minor compromises. This case study demonstrates that the government can squeeze unpopular reforms through the parliament without relying upon an “authoritarian modernization” model if its policies are backed by a strong and popular president and when its efforts to secure the support of various actors prove enough to build a broad informal coalition of supporters. The case of labor reform is also revealing because there were two full-fledged attempts at this reform in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and only the latter succeeded. This allows us to trace the ultimate policy success back to the factors that conditioned it in the second try but were lacking in the first attempt, and to consider some effects of policy learning.