The State of St Petersburg’s Municipalities : Conditions for Local Governance in Russia
Abstract (Summary)The study’s focus is put on the lowest level of Russian local politics, empirically represented by two municipalities in St Petersburg. It aims at identifying factors that influence the work of municipal councils. Municipal organs are since their establishment in 1998 officially self-governing and responsible for a wide array of activities within their territories. They are perceived as administrative domains in this paper, parts of a hierarchic domain-structure. The municipal domains are both fiscally and politically restricted by upper political levels – mainly the regional authorities – that heavily reduce the capabilities of the municipal councils’ activities. Besides being dependent on resources from the regional and federal level, the municipal councils’ budgets are reliant on taxing of commercial retailing within its boundaries. Joint with the basic social and demographic circumstances of a municipality, this factor is likely to shape the extent of the council’s activity. The field study conducted specifies that while a geographically central municipality is engaged in infrastructure-maintenance and cultural activities, a peripheral ditto is mainly concerned with social help. Deputies in both districts perceive the current prospects of local government as being limited by outer influence, most of the people involved in the councils are unpaid and the resources needed to communicate with the inhabitants do not exist. The general and actual weakness of local governments is mirrored in the public attitudes, influenced by state-controlled media and revealed in participatory election turnouts. The election in December 2004 produced turnouts exceeding the legitimate limit of 20 % in almost all municipalities. However, the figures are to some extent the results of administrative pressure and liberals claim that plain frauds determined many outcomes. Tendencies point towards a politicization of municipal organs, whereas presently many perceive them as simply administrative. The municipal domain is characterized merely by responsibility instead of actual authority, ownership and substantial spatial impact. It is reliant on higher-level domains while competing for resources with neighboring domains.
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/04/2006