Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Tatiana Tkacheva (Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia) and Pavel Kononenko (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia)

Factors of Legal Diversity in Russian Regions

Russian federalism has become commonly considered to be entirely façade. A series of reforms aimed at recentralization and then construction of the ‘power vertical’ had led to the situation ‘regions do not matter’. As a result, the structure of regional authorities is unified, regional party systems are identical to the federal one with a fixed role of the dominant party and with a, mostly, weak opposition; the electoral outcome is usually determined by the interest of the federal authorities. Even in the case of ‘emergency’ (that is, a low level of electoral support for the dominant party – United Russia – during the 2011 parliamentary elections), the reasons are usually federal-based. However, the opportunity to talk about political diversity in Russia still remains. On a monthly basis, regional parliaments send their bills to the Ministry of Justice for the review within the “ensuring of the legal unity” process. This activity is aimed at bringing the subnational laws in line with the federal legislation. The fact is that regional legislatures, with their political and institutional features directly dictated by the ‘power vertical’ system, demonstrate different intensity of legislative activity. Moreover, in accordance with the review results, the number of incongruous acts also highly varies from one region to another. The given research is aimed at explaining this heterogeneity which is unexpected within the existing political and institutional homogeneity. There are two working hypotheses in the study: the ‘regional’ one and the ‘parliamentary’ one. The ‘regional’ hypothesis suggests that both intensity and quality of regional legislation activity depend on solely endogenous characteristics of the subunits. The ‘parliamentary’ one explains both dimensions of the heterogeneity through the features of organizational and political structure of subnational legislatures. The proposed paper will present the preliminary results of testing only the ‘regional’ working hypothesis.