The Dynamics of Sub-National Authoritarianism: Russia in Comparative Perspective

15 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 24 Aug 2009

See all articles by Vladimir Gel'man

Vladimir Gel'man

European University at St.Petersburg

Date Written: 2009 8, 23


In the 1990s, sub-national authoritarian regimes – local-based monopolies of ruling elites – emerged in many of Russia’s regions and cities against the background of spontaneous decentralization of government and competitive electoral politics. In the 2000s, the decline of political competition and recentralization of the Russian state led to incorporation of sub-national authoritarian regimes under federal control and cooptation of local-based actors into the dominant party, United Russia. This paper is devoted to a comparative analysis of sub-national authoritarianism in Russia in light of the experience of local political machines in other countries, ranging from US cities from the 1870s-1930s to Southern Italy from the 1950s-1980s. Unlike the American political machines, which were demolished from below as a by-product of modernization processes, Russia’s sub-national authoritarian regimes were integrated from above into the nation-wide authoritarianism. One might expect further stagnation of sub-national authoritarian regimes in Russia until major regime changes will occur on the national level.

Keywords: authoritarianism, sub-national politics, decentralization, Russia

Suggested Citation

Gel'man, Vladimir, The Dynamics of Sub-National Authoritarianism: Russia in Comparative Perspective (2009 8, 23). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Vladimir Gel'man (Contact Author)

European University at St.Petersburg ( email )

3 Gagarinskaia ul.
St. Petersburg, 191187

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics