Russia’s Regions and Comparative Subnational Politics
Subnational political units are growing in influence in national and international
affairs, drawing increasing scholarly attention to politics beyond national capitals.
In this book, leading Russian and Western political scientists contribute to
debates in comparative politics by examining Russia’s subnational politics.
Beginning with a chapter that reviews major debates in theory and method,
this book continues to examine Russia’s 83 regions, exploring a wide range of
topics including the nature and stability of authoritarian regimes, federal politics,
political parties, ethnic conflict, governance and inequality in a comparative perspective.
Providing both qualitative and quantitative data from 20 years of original
research, the book draws on elite interaction, public opinion and the role of
institutions regionally in the post-Soviet
years. The regions vary on a number of
theoretically interesting dimensions while their federal membership provides
control for other dimensions that are challenging for globally comparative
studies. The authors demonstrate the utility of subnational analyses and show
how regional questions can help answer a variety of political questions, providing
evidence from Russia that can be used by specialists on other large countries
or world regions in cross-national
Situated within broader theoretical and methodological political science
debates, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Russian politics,
comparative politics, regionalism and subnational politics
What is governmental effectiveness on the regional level? How can the study of regional effectiveness help us understand the performance of the political, social and economic systems of the state as a whole? These questions are very important from both the theoretical and applied perspectives, and the Russian Federation, with its huge and diverse territory, provides extremely rich material to answer them. Serious institutional reforms in the public sector have been implemented in recent years, and the results vary substantially from one region to another. So, in Russia, we can study how general attempts to make government more effective - guided by federal policies - produce particular regional effects, and, conversely, how regions implement federal policy differently. Both views tell us something important about overall governmental quality.
Governmental effectiveness, though in a broad sense one of the oldest issues in political science and philosophy, is currently enjoying a renaissance. The quantity of recent publications and even a special academic structure - The Quality of Government Institute in Sweden – illustrate the current interest. However, researching governmental effectiveness poses serious difficulties, on both the conceptual and instrumental levels. Despite (perhaps even because of) the variety of available theoretical frameworks, the essential core notions of governmental effectiveness and good governance remain murky. Furthermore, scholars disagree about what effectiveness and efficiency mean in a general sense. These issues obviously make it difficult to construct adequate measurement instruments.
The paper seeks to achieve three goals: 1) to review existing approaches and highlight their weak points; 2) to propose a theoretical framework for analyzing governmental effectiveness using appropriate estimation tools; and 3) to present empirical results based on data on public health care from Russia’s regions. Three patterns that ought to correlate - regional efficiency, how reform has been implemented and public opinion – are, instead, inconsistent with each other. Russia’s health-care sector today faces considerable problems with basic, systemic effectiveness.
Russia’s party system is now a dominant-party system, as the 2011 Duma elections bore out. United Russia won for the third consecutive time, meeting Sartori’s 1976 criterion for being classified as a dominant party. United Russia’s domination looks especially strong on the regional level since almost all governors are party members, and the same is true for the majority of regional legislative members. United Russia has become an important tool for recruitment into the ruling elite and, at the same time, it reflects the structure of regional elites as oversized governing coalitions. While United Russia includes most prominent politicians and client networks, the party’s electoral support is limited and falling after its 2007 peak, which leaves significant space for the other parties. However, since every party seeks, at least in theory, to come to power, Russia’s opposition parties have to make a hard choice between being incorporated into the existing distribution of power or openly resisting the authorities in the hope that, by doing so, they will receive public support and win governmental power. Comparative studies of authoritarian regimes have not examined how opposition parties make this choice.