Prof. NadezhdaBorisova on the Local Government Reform In The Perm Region: "To Be Continued…"

The Russian local government reform of 2000s has provided a valuable empirical material for the researchers community. Drawing upon the reform outcomesscholars seek to understand what guides the regional authorities in their policy choices?  What decision-making and implementation strategies are being used? What constitutes interests of the regional authorities and municipalities? To what extent they vary or, vice versa, converge?

The local government reform pursued the following aims.As it is stipulated in the Federal law "On General Principles of local government organization in the Russian Federation" the main purposes include the creationof the two-tier organization of local government; the differentiation of discretionareas and power checks and balances between the power levels;the differentiation of expenditure commitments and sources of revenue;and the encouragement ofcitizens’ participation in local decision-making process.

Since 2005 the Perm regionhas been implementingthe local government reform. Soon after, without a clearstrategy the region has become "a leader ofthe local government reform implementation". Regional policy-makers strived to follow literally each recommendation of the Federal law. The latter resulted in a surplus of newly created municipalities without sufficient resource base to sustain their normal functioning.Two years later thereform process has been reversed and coined ‘optimization’. Thus, by 2013 the number of municipalities has sharply reduced from 363 to 339. As Prof. Borisova points out,despite the initially ideological priorities the regional power holders ended up with purelyutilitarian interests of ensuring subordination and controllability.

NadezhdaBorisova -  Ph.D. in Political Science, Associate Professor, Perm State National Research University