State versus society? Local government and the reconstruction of the Russian state

“This paper sets out to demonstrate that the evolution of Russian local government reflects the continuing debate between two traditions or theories of what local government should be: a centralising tradition which does not recognise the claims of either local autonomy or of political pluralism, and a romantic localism based on the society theory of local self-government, which imbues local self-government with an unrealistic mission and thereby (it may be argued) hinders the development of effective local institutions, and thus indirectly supports the consolidation of the state centralism it is opposed to.

These two approaches to local government come into collision over the status of districts, which are not entirely state or local government institutions. Whereas the 1995 Law on Local Self-Government attempted to keep districts separate from local self-government, this did not prove practicable, and the Law of 2003, by reintroducing districts, may be seen as attempting to bridge the two opposing conception of the status of local government.”

Published in Local Government Studies | A. Campbell | 2006,,