Editor-in-chief of the “Politeia”, President of the “Russian Public Policy Center” Foundation A.M.Salmin presents this edition and sees its main goal in the fullest, multifold introduction of an extremely complex phenomenon of local self-government.
Introducing this issue, president of the State Duma’s Committee on local self-government V.S.Mokryi emphasizes that the “Politeia” is published in the time symbolizing the end of a period of search for a Russian model of local self-government and beginning of a new period – that of implementation of this model.
Local self-government and state in a changing environment
The article analyses the reasons for turning to the elaboration of a new concept of a law on local self-government. The author describes the new version of the law, examines the discussions of the draft law in the State Duma. V.Mokryi believes that the development of local self-government has firmly occupied one of the priority directions of our state policy.
The article bases on the materials of an alternative (at a point when the first version of an official concept of the draft appeared) report of a Working group lead by S.Sobyanin, prepared for the State Council of the Russian Federation. By the way, later a number of propositions from this material were included in a new law on local self-government. The author is sure that the state is responsible for guaranteeing people’s right to local self-government. This approach supposes the need to perfect the current legislation, to optimize the territorial organization, to ensure a rational distribution of authority. Along with this, he believes there should be no unreasonable alienation between state institutions and institutions of local governing.
The author assesses the degree of conformity between the legal bases and the law enforcement practice. He analyzes the problem of a budgetary and financial situation in municipalities, the problems of their accountability and control (both from the population and the government). A special attention is devoted to the priorities in the development of local self-government.
According to the author, another reform of the local self-government provokes the feeling of sound anxiety, along with that of a reserved optimism. If the reform is limited to a new version of general principles and bringing the rest of legislation to conformity with them, there will be no new quality of local self-government. Y.Kirillov thinks that an appropriate organization of legislative guarantee of local self-government on the federal and regional levels, interaction between executive (both federal and regional) and judicial powers, and efficient inter-municipal cooperation are a pledge of ensuring transition from the current state of local self-government to the wishful one. The article describes in detail the measures that, according to the author, should be taken in order to make the process of reforming the local self-government more active.
Territorial bases of local self-government
The authors believe that one of the reasons for a slow and painful recovery of the local self-government lies in the preservation of a system of territorial division that was aimed just at liquidation of public authority. The efforts to establish local self-government today run across the problem of internal organization. That is why the question of administrative limits of local self-government, on the one hand, and administrative limits of state administration, on the other, will remain in the agenda and provoke fierce debates until an administrative and territorial reform is worked out and implemented.
Legal aspects of local self-government
The author focuses his attention on the factors that determine the right of urban and rural population to local self-government (natural bases and constitutional and legal principles in the first place). The object of study is interpreted in terms of a natural scientific, historic and sociological approach. The author examines the problems of correlation between centralization and decentralization, as well as a number of other serious issues. M.Vasiliev states that the independence of a local community, so difficultly ensured, is mostly subject to intervention by central and regional authorities. This independence is very easy to eliminate, if it has not become an integral part of the society by being realized through coherent law enforcement.
Local self-government and economy
According to the authors, the new law on local government has a great potential of transformations, including those in a social and economic sphere. Strict abidance by its conceptual provisions will make it possible in a five-year time to form a local budget sufficient to solve problems of local significance. At the same time, the law does not provide for a possibility to use the resource potential of local self-government, to use it for transition to sustainable development. A specific emphasis is placed upon modern practice of using new technologies of managing the development. The article appeals for a search for the economic models of local self-government that would correspond to the challenges of the epoch.
The article links the majority of problems of local self-government with imperfection of its economic bases that do not secure the formation and launching of new mechanisms of municipalities’ self-organization. The authors stand for working out efficient and complex programs of municipalities’ development, particularly using the theory of production and social complexes. The work defends the statement that municipal authority can and has to carry on business – by means of creating municipal corporations, giving reasonable credits, conducting municipal market researches, etc.
Financial and economic aspects of the reform of local self-government is considered by the authors as one of the key factors of its implementation. It is the insufficient elaboration of the financial aspect that might cause difficulties while the new law is carried out. The article draws attention to the problems of local budgets’ sources of income and particularly to the participation of municipalities in commercial projects. The authors believe that ensuring financial independence of local authorities is just as important as assuring financial arrivals.
The author evaluated the new version of the Federal law on local self-government and focuses his attention mainly on the practical measures that are taken to ensure its enforcement. It is these practical measures that will have a decisive importance for the future of the law. The article gives a considerable attention to the quality of economic basis of local self-government, the degree of its financial independence, the formation of a mechanism of territorial development, ensuring a transparency of economic activity. The author rests upon historical experience in implementation of laws on local self-government accumulated by the Russian Empire, and uses Danish and Spanish experience in the distribution of powers between central, regional and local authorities.
Local self-government from a political perspective
The article analyses the degree of political parties’ involvement in the process of formation of a system of local self-government, which, according to the author, is one of the corner-stones of today’s political organization. Y.Korgunyuk analyses to what extent political parties have realized the problems connected with local self-government and to what extent they are involved in solving such problems in practice. The author looks for an answer to these questions in political parties’ program documents and the positions they held while working out and discussing the legislation on local self-government. Apart from that, the author takes an interest in the way the parties defend their position in action, at the regional level.
The author believes (and supports his opinion with arguments) that to accord deputies with the right to work in a representative organ of local self-government on a permanent paid basis causes many more negative than positive consequences. He stands for introducing a position of a professional municipal manager (the head of administration) hired by a representative organ of self-government on a contract basis.
Local self-government on the level of self-organization of local community
The authors distinguish and analyze two aspects of local self-government – they consider this phenomenon in terms of local self-government organization as public authority and in terms of self-organization of population on a local territory. A full-fledged local self-government is performed where, on the one hand, there is an advanced democracy of municipal authority, and on the other hand, there is a developed local community. It is also stressed that self-government has to be initiated from the ‘bottom’, from the population. The reality of today’s Russia is that it practically does not have any developed local communities. Moreover, the authors believe that Russian legislation does not provide for efficient organization and functioning of local self-government as public authority in non-developed local communities.
The article deals with the problems of developing territorial local self-government. The authors study the forms and methods of people’s participation in the process of establishing neighborhoods, they cite multiple examples of self-organization of people living in different regions of the country (including the rural population). The article also analyzes the difficulties that the organizations of territorial public self-government have to overcome, among which they name the unpreparedness of Russian authorities and Russian business to invest money into projects initiated by people, the lack of qualified specialists and a system of their training.
The article is based on a survey of local self-government activists, held in 10 Siberian cities in 2003. The author studies the tendencies and prospects of development of territorial public self-government and the influence that the new law on local self-government exerts on this process. The article examines possible resources of territorial public self-government and the attitude of local authorities and people to this form of public self-government.
Local self-government through the prism of western models
The world experience in the sphere of self-government is extremely manifold. It is usually considered that Europe has formed two main models of local self-government that spread in this or that combination around the whole world – an Anglo-Saxon and a continental models. The article analyses both models and their main variations. The author also focuses her attention on the experience of administrative and territorial reforms, including the recent ones, in the post-socialist countries (Poland and the GDR). It is particularly stressed that the success of the local self-government reforms is due not only to an administrative factor, but rather to their economic stimulation. The article emphasizes that while interpreting foreign models of local self-government it is important to avoid usual Russian stereotypes and mistakes (the examples are cited). Thus, the efficiency of applying international experience to Russia depends on whether and to what extent this experience is understood.
Municipal revolution of 1990-s: between intentions and results. (V.Y.Gelman, S.I.Ryzhenkov, E.V.Belokurova, N.V.Borisova. Autonomy or control? Reform of local authority in Russian cities, 1991-2001. S.-Pt.: Letniy Sad, 2002. – 383p.)
The review notes that the book prepared by the European University in Saint-Petersburg clearly stands out in a growing flow of publications on local self-government. It is an attempt to give serious answers to the reasons of very modest results of a ten-year reform period in this sphere. The work very well combines the analysis both on the federal and the regional levels. It is not without reason that 4 out of 7 chapters present a sort of case-studies of attempts to establish local authority in very different regions (Saratov, Perm, Petrozavodsk, Pskov).
According to the critic, the book represents a qualified attempt to give a systematic analysis of the reform of local self-government that was initiated by a 2003 federal law. It is emphasized that the authors of the book are high-level professionals, who justified the need of the reform and directly participated in the elaboration of the new law. Among the merits of the book A.Ivanchenko also names the presence of different, sometimes opposite evaluations of the same phenomena and normative decisions, differing positions of authors on fundamental problems of Russian municipal law. In the opinion of A.Ivanchenko, such a scientific discussion would be very useful for the development of local self-government theory.
The traditional column of the “Politeia” provides biographic data on Anatoly Yakshin and Tatyana Govorenkova who devoted their lives to reestablishment of Russian municipal science. The ‘archive’ also includes extracts from Govorenkova’s lectures before the Club of municipal public figures.
L.Shapiro starts the chronicle by analyzing the last years of the USSR, when perestroika gave rise to purposeful attempts to introduce certain elements of self-government first in labour collectives, and then - as an experiment - in regional economic agents. The main attention is focused on multiple steps taken in this sphere in the post-soviet period, that resulted in a new version of a law on local self-government of the late 2003.