Political Accountability and Real Authority of Government Bureaucracy
The article describes repeated attempts by Russian authorities to establish a well-ordered administration of the imperial universities in the first half of the nineteenth century. There were several reasons for the government’s discontent with the state of affairs in education: the recently founded Russian universities were a far cry from the ultimate benchmark – the old German universities – in terms of teaching and research results, while being equally suspicious as breeding grounds for subversive ideas. Since Alexander I’s accession to the throne, his reformist government was busy trying to introduce firm state control over universities simultaneously with taking the very first steps in laying the grounds for a modern bureaucratic regime of governance. Universities were a hotbed of producing modern knowledge and training future bureaucrats, and thus the modern state was created in Russia in the process of rationalizing the administration of universities.
The article concerns the problem of the Russian absolutist monarchy of the XVIII - the beginning of XX-th centuries in a comparative perspective. The social function of absolutism consisted in national integration, cultural unification and social transformation of traditional society by using of legal and coercive measures. The crucial problem is the changing role of the bureaucracy which could be the main protagonist of reforms or, just the opposite – its main opponent. From this point of view the author summarizes positive and negative aspects of absolutist reforms making outlook on the comparative experience of other absolutist empires of Europe and Asia.
How do Russian leaders balance the need to decentralize governance in a socially and politically complex country with the need to guarantee political control of the state?
Since the early 2000’s Russian federal authorities have arranged a system of political control on regional elites and their leaders providing a ‘police control’ of special bodies subordinated by the federal centre on policy implementation in the regions. Different mechanisms of fiscal federalism and investment policy were used to ensure regional elites’ loyalty and a politically centralized but administratively decentralized system was created.
Asking clear, direct and theoretically informed questions about the relationship between federalism, decentralisation and authoritarianism, this book explores the political survival of authoritarian leaders, the determinants of policy formulation and theories of federalism and decentralization, to reach a new understanding of territorial governance in contemporary Russia. An important work for students and researchers in Russian studies and regional and federal studies.
Which incentives have the strongest impact on the size of the informal economy? Is it about government’s pressure against entrepreneurs operating in this sector, or is it about the benefits of legality? The goal of this paper is to explicitly contrast the role of sticks (court repressiveness) and carrots (financial aid to small and medium-sized firms) as factors determining the size of the informal economy, using the case of the Russian taxi market. It uses a unique dataset of taxi licensing data from regional transport departments and indicators for taxi market demand and supply to estimate the extent of informal business. When controlling for market demand and supply, it finds a strong and robust positive effect of sanctions on the size of the official market, with higher repressiveness leading to a smaller informal economy. In contrast, the effect of carrots was insignificant. The results suggest that the effectiveness of carrot policies is compromised when entrepreneurs operate informally to avoid dealing with corrupt bureaucrats and have low trust in the government.
The subject of this chapter is the ethical and sociological aspects of events during perestroika and after. At that time, Russia reached the zenith of liberal ethical values, of romantic hopes and expectations and public demands for justice and the accountability of public authorities. Unfortunately, substantial underestimation of the importance of non-economic factors—especially moral ones—in the reform process resulted in a moral crisis, general disappointment in liberalism and other substantive negative consequences. Acquisition of intellectual and political liberties coincided with a catastrophic economic crisis and the imposition of urgent and necessary measures that were very hard on the population. These measures saved the country from economic collapse but for high political cost, because they were associated (wrongly, as it happens) in mass consciousness with the liberal concept as such. The borders of tolerance toward material impoverishment for the benefit of political freedom were crossed. Also, the paradox of double, contradictory treatment of liberalism in both Soviet intellectual and bureaucratic circles is analyzed in this context. The continuity of former Soviet administrative personnel engendered moral anomy, an identity crisis and alienation among them because inherited officials proved to be unprepared both morally and professionally for work under conditions of transition from socialism to a marketoriented system. This promoted the growth of systemic corruption. The public trust toward the state and public officials have been broken. Moreover, public trust in democratic institutions in general and even a very belief in the possibility of honest government have been undermined then. Despite this, we can find in the contemporary situation a certain ground for optimism. This is based on the revival of demands for social justice and unwillingness to tolerate its absence any longer. Public political protest is considered in this context as a natural and positive element of social activity and political participation, and as a pre-condition for the existence of civil society. In addition, the revival of liberal values in such a form, intuitively sometimes, such as the evolution of horizontal connections and parallel structures in different areas of social life, efforts of people to become maximally independent from state bureaucracy, is the subject of final pages of the chapter.