It was not for the first time that the idea of establishment of consolidated administrations arose in the course of the debate on municipal reform, but it had earlier been considered in an absolutely different context. While discussing the draft of Federal Act ¹ 131-FZ “On general principles of organization of local self-governance in RF”, it was proposed to provide for a possibility to establish consolidated administrations at the settlement level. That would help quench the cadre hunger and optimize costs. To cite an example, Germany boasts a similar experience, and numerous provisions of the municipal reform have become a replica of the Germany’s local self-governance mechanisms. However, the proposal was discarded at that stage. The new municipal law provided for a mandatory formation in each municipal entity of not only the representative body of local self-governance, as before, but the municipal entity’s head and local administration as well.
The effective mechanism of consolidated administrations bears an utterly different ideological load, for it constitutes an attempt to remedy, by means of raw power, an objective conflict that emerges under the two-tier municipal governance system. To grasp its very core, it should be noted that, according to the general rule, district centers appear the strongest settlements, with the greatest development potential and concentration of the most valuable resources. In the circumstances, the district authorities’ interests with respect to allocation and employment of these resources are objectively polar to the settlement’ authorities’ ones. Corruption-driven problems aside, there emerges a conflict of interests between deployment of Federal Act of 29.11.2010.¹ 315-FZ “on introducing amendments to the Federal Act “On general principles of organization of local self-governance in RF”.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks resources for the sake of development and their use for equalization purposes. Solving it necessitates bringing the conflict into the institutional framework, forming rules of the game that could ensure a balance of interests and fuel efficacy of implementation of each of them.
Needless to say, creation of consolidated administrations does not solve the problem, and the latent conflict is still there, as brilliantly exemplified by formation of a local budget as cited in V. Chernikov’s paper: “While drafting the district budget, the administration will have to be at pains to slash the part of spending for which the administrative center can qualify. As far as the city’s budget is concerned, the same administration should strive to get a maximum possible piece of the budget cake from the district’s budget. As these two things are impossible to do simultaneously, the administration will have to choose whom to block with, and here already is the conflict between two representative bodies, neither of which has a right to consent for infringement of its respective municipality’s rights”1.
Evidently, a conflict of this kind can be solved solely by means of the “administrative resource”, which, in the overwhelming majority of cases, takes sides with the district administration. Hence a drastic weakening of one of the conflicting parties – namely, the district center, which in most cases forms the municipal district’s development force. At this junction, there are practically no mechanisms left to counter the district authorities’ diktat in this regard. As well, a contracted head of the consolidated administration, who has been appointed thanks to the regional and district authorities’ joint efforts and pursues the municipal district’s stance on all debatable issues sees no opposition to his activites. At this point, Anatoly Lokot, MP, was right to assert that, “This amendment and the Act on the whole open up a mechanism under which there will be no local self-governance at the district center settlement level … In our opinion, it launched a mechanism of liquidation of local self-governance as a whole”2.
Meanwhile, notably, that such novelties may have an adverse impact not only on the state of local self-governance. Our research showed that district heads often take a fairly conservative stance on compression of the development system, the social sphere restructuring and other similar processes capable of optimizing budget spending and creating more favorable conditions for economic growth. The center of gravity for the local rimland residents, a strong district center could counterbalance the trend and generate incentives to, and conditions for, activation of these processes. However, striking such a balance in the conditions of a consolidated administration does not seem warranted.
That said, the authors of the bill emphasize its other pluses – namely, the possibility to cut back on managerial costs and shape a single center of responsibility to which residents should bring their problems; however, such a presentation of the problem gets us back to the early 2000’s, with their general debates on contours of the municipal reform options. At the time, opponents to the two-tier local self-governance model used to assert, time and again, that the model tended to engender increased administrative costs, the taxpayer’s great uncertainty about which body was responsible for tackling which matters, and additional corruption risks3. The warnings were not heard of, as the two-tier structure was conceived of bearing fundamental advantages vis--vis any other structures: it was alleged to ensure economies of scale coupled with financial equalization and a due account of needs and interests. The back Mestnoye samoupravleniye. ¹ 12 (207) December 2010, p. 9.
Ibid., p. See, for example: Problemy reformy mestnogo samoupravleniya: strukturnye i finansovye aspekty//Konsortstium po voprosam prikladnykh ekonomicheskikh issledovaniy: M.: IEPP, 2005.
Institutional Problems ground of the municipal reform demonstrated that once withdrawn from the context of a formed institutional matrix and a real system of interests, such advantages remain merely theoretical. The two-tier model’s defects were implemented in full, while its efficiency manifested itself primarily in intensification of centralization and cuts of the guarantees for local self-governance. Hence a more global than the problem of consolidated administrations question: to what extent is the selected model of municipal reform generally adequate to Russia’s conditions and can it in principle allow local communities’ (where such communities really exist) self-organization mechanisms to flourish The answer to the question clearly lies beyond the frame of the present review, though.
6.7.2. Renunciation of Direct Mayoral Elections Yet another trend is gaining momentum now. It is associated with the increasingly widespread municipal entity governance model, under which the municipality head is elected from the representative body, while the administration is run by a city manager contracted with a regional authorities’ vigorous participation. Such a model ensures a maximum possible blockage of the local community’s influence on formation of the municipal bodies of power and ensures a greater influence on them by the RF Subject’s leadership.
The strive for abandonment of elections of municipal entities’ heads has been clearly visible through the period following the transition to appointment of governors. Attempts to directly replicate the region-level model at the municipal one faced serious legal challenges, as they contradicted the RF Constitution. However, some other ways to solidify the “vertical” were found – that is, limiting the municipal entities’ independence, broad practiced prosecution of “disloyal” city mayors, and, finally, downplaying the local communities’ role in elections of heads of municipal entities1. In a situation when the municipality head is elected from the local representative council, the voters cast their ballots for the composition of the latter, but cannot express his opinion on whether this or that candidate qualifies for the municipality head. It is the instrument that was substantially activated in 2010.
As concerns the practice of contracting heads of local administrations, which the model in question also provides for, the mechanism is fairly widespread around the globe. However, there causes behind its rise were absolutely different from Russia’s. In the US, for example, during the so-called municipal revolution of the 1920s the call for professional administration of municipal entities was in a sense the at-large public’s reaction to monopolization of the political sphere by individual groups that had been dominating municipal elections and getting stock of the municipal policies. But the Western nations’ assessments of the background in question are far from being unambiguous. Experts note that Europeans are restoring the institution of direct elections: ”the Europeans have seen for themselves that there is no efficient During his recent live TV public Q & A session, PM V. Putin voiced the federal authorities’ stance on the issue. Mr. Putin believes that direct elections of municipality heads in tandem with an insufficiently efficient civil society form the cause for criminalization of the regional and local power. (Minutes of a special TV broadcast “Talk with Vladimir Putin. Continuation”// The official website of the Chairman of the Government of Russian Federation. 16 December 2010. http://www.moskva-putinu.ru/. Access date: 26.01.2011). Experts note: «The push for abolition of elections is going on under a vehement participation of governors, who often promote such decisions citing a “political decision on introducing city managers nationwide” made on the federal level.
Source: Index politicheskogo vliyaniya glav 100 krupneyshikh gorodov Rossii // IA REGNUM. Posted: 01:23.12.2010 – at http://www.regnum.ru/news/polit/1359603.html. Access date: 26.01.2011.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks local governance, but a strong self-governance”1. For example, the increasing number of German municipal entities favors a local administration model under which the Burgmeester runs both the City Hall and the local representative council.
That said, it is impossible to draw a direct comparison between the Russian city manager model and the Western one. As the ‘GOLOS’ association noted in a statement in the aftermath of recent Russian municipal elections, “This analogy is not applicable, as the mechanism of appointment of the contracted head of administration fixed in the Russian law may not be appreciated as free elections, because the rationale for the provision of the RF Subject authorities with the right to appoint 1/3 of members of the contest commission raises doubts”2. The vehicle the Western nations would employ to bolster democratic mechanisms is used in Russia as an instrument of further centralization.
Available data suggest that introduction of the institution of city manager resulted in abolition of direct mayoral elections in 43 regional capital cities3. To cite specific examples, in 2009, direct elections were abolished in Samara, Stavropol, Ryazan, Tyumen, Kazan, Ufa, Tver, among other cities. In 2010, the woeful list expanded to include Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, Blagoveschensk, Elista, Vladimir, Kurgan, Orenburg. Chelyabinsk, Perm, and Ekaterinburg, to name a few more cities.
Notably enough, the peculiarity of 2010 became expansion of the process onto the urban centers exemplary for their strong and independent local governments, such as Chelyabinsk, Ekaterinburg and Perm. On 15 September 2010, at their working meeting in Ekaterinburg representatives of the civic coalitions for retaining direct mayoral elections from the above three cities agreed on establishment of a nationwide civic network to defend the elections. According to Mr. Igor Averkiev, chairman of the Perm civic chamber, the civic network organizers’ cumulative efforts would unlikely be limited with resistance to abolition of mayoral elections, as there are other profound challenges associated with the Russian authorities’ attempts to debar the populace from the possibility to exert a direct influence on authorities, including abolition of gubernatorial elections and current manipulations with majority and proportional election systems4. Despite the coalition’s efforts, direct elections were abolished in all the three cities.
In Chelyabinsk, the elections were abolished in 2010, almost immediately after Mr. Mikhail Yurevich, the former mayor, had been appointed the governor. Interestingly, once elected as the mayor of Chelyabinsk, Mr. Yurevich succeeded in amending the city’s Statute, which had earlier provided for existence of a city manager, while despite local residents elected Mr.
Yurevich the mayor, he was supposed to exercise powers of the chairman of the local representative body.
In the city of Perm, the procedure of abolition of direct mayoral election was launched in the spring of 2010, with the final decision taken in the summer. The initiative faaced an ener Markwart E. Vse mestnoye samoupravili po vertikali. Ot vyborov merov tozhe reshili otkazatsya// Ú-Online.
From the first statement of the GOLOS association by results of a long-term monitoring of municipal campaigns for the elections set for October 10, 2010 (the stages of nomination, registration and the start of the campaign trails). Moscow, 6 September 2010 – URL: http://golos.org/a3878.html. Access date: 26.01.2011.
Meram postavili “dvoyki” za ikh vliyatilnost// RBK 23.12.2010. URL: http://top.rbc.ru/politics/23/12/2010/ 519860.shtmlfrom=qip. Access date: 26.01.2011.
Institutional Problems getic protest from a public coalition named “For direct elections” founded by 7 local civil society organizations. While as many as 79% of local residents (the Levada Center data) upheld the idea of retaining direct mayoral elections of the city administration’s head1, the representative body decided otherwise.