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Liberalism and neo-patrimonialism in post-communist Russia

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Chapter Summary

The public-private distinction in the early twenty-first century is one of the important issues in understanding contemporary political practice in post-communist Eastern Europe. On the basis of the Russian example, this chapter shows that three fundamental principles of social organization remain in tension. The shift from neo-authoritarianism and patrimonialism to liberalism proves more complex and contradictory than Putin imagined. A central feature of post-communist Russian politics is the tension between stability and order. The chapter addresses the question whether this dual hegemonic ambitionto control the political process and to reduce the level of uncertainty in achieving outcomeshas, in the Russian case, evolved away from the liberal separation of powers enshrined formally in the 1993 Constitution into something akin to a neo-patrimonial system where all institutions and political processes come under the tutelage of the presidency. Genuine liberalism replaces the statist struggle to manage democracy and the neo-patrimonial struggle for hegemony.

Keywords: liberalism; neo-authoritarianism; neo-patrimonialism; post-communist Russia



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