Instruments of subordination and the quality of public goods provision: case-study of Petrozavodsk, 2016-2021

Instruments of subordination and the quality of public goods provision:
case-study of Petrozavodsk, 2016-2021

Turchenko M.S.,

European University at St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Russia,

elibrary_id: 821906 | ORCID: 0000-0001-8535-5473 | RESEARCHER_ID: A-8499-2016

Article received: 2021.12.23. Accepted: 2022.06.14

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.03.10

Rubric: Russia today

For citation:

Turchenko M.S. Instruments of subordination and the quality of public goods provision: case-study of Petrozavodsk, 2016-2021. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 3. P. 132-145. (In Russ.). EDN: ULAFXC

The reported study was funded by RFBR. The number of the research project is 20-011-00600.


The article is built upon a case-study of Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republic of Karelia, Russia. In 2015, the regional authorities dismissed the Petrozavodsk city mayor and replaced popular mayoral elections in the city with the procedure of appointing a mayor chosen by the City Council from nominees put forward by the competition committee. The study describes the tools at the regional authorities’ disposal enabling them to fully embed emasculated local self-government into the subnational “power vertical”. Among such tools there are both informal practices, allowing the regional authorities to supervise local policies, and more formalized leverages. The latter includes: (1) the control over the competition committee in charge of selecting new mayors through its chairperson, (2) the restoration of a special office within the local self-government structure designed to be occupied by a governor’s team representative, (3) putting a governor’s subordinate at the mayoral position, (4) filling self-government offices with former servants of the regional government. The scrutiny of mechanisms employed by regional authorities to subordinate local self-government enriches the literature studying the entry of authoritarian practices at the municipal level. The article also analyses the relationship between models of local heads selection and the quality of public goods provision. The case of Petrozavodsk shows that three out of four of the city’s urgent issues (lack of public housing for low-income citizens, a lack of municipal kindergartens, non-fulfillment of storm drainage repair) remained unresolved under the appointed mayor. Thus, the study provides no strong evidence to affirm that the appointed head of the city performed better than the elected one. This conclusion is in line with quantitative findings, indicating that there is a lack of robust relationship between models of local heads selection and the quality of public goods provision.

local self-government, power vertical, direct elections, instruments of subordination, public goods, Petrozavodsk.


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Content No. 3, 2023

See also:

Turovsky R.F.,
Russia’s Local Self-Government: the Agent of the Government in the Trap of Insuffi cient Funding and Civil Passivity. – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No2

Offerdal A.,
On Nordic Local Government - Development and Prospects. – Polis. Political Studies. 1999. No2

Gavrilov G.A.,
Some Particular Features of the Elections in Several-Members Districts. – Polis. Political Studies. 2006. No4

Pankevich N.V.,
Local Self-Government Within the State Governance. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No2

Belousov A.B.,
Paradoxes of the Power Vertical: Retrospection, Imagination, Trauma. – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No6



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