This report covers mostly the published or soon-to-be published policy research
articles during the past six months of the
2001 International Policy Fellow
fellowship cycle (January –June 2001). All the pieces connect directly
to the public policy process and political economy of social policy reform
(particularly pensions) – the principal foci of my research. As originally
intended, I have translated some of my research articles into Russian tobe
published in Moscow in early fall. A brief description of the articlesfollows.
1) ‘A Political Institutional Analysis
of the Pension Reform Process in Romania’, The Romanian Journal ofSociety
and Politics, Volume 1, Number 1, May 2001, pp. 123-141.
The article analyzes the politics of the public pension reform process in
Romania from an institutional perspective. It employs the concept of
‘veto actor’ to explain the political dynamics of pension reform
and divides the process into several stages to better capture the sequencing
of policy changes. A veto actor is an individual or group of actors whose
approval is necessary for a change in policy. The number of veto actors affects
the radicalness of the pension reform (i.e., the size of the private pillar)
as well as its speed. In the Romanian case, the fragmented party system (multiple
veto actors) and proximity to elections (timing of reform) serve as primary
explanations to the halted pension reform process.
2) ‘The Pensioners’ Court Campaign: Making LawMatter
in Russia’, forthcoming, Eastern European Constitutional Review,Fall
2001, with Mitchell Orenstein.
The article responds to the Fall 1999 Eastern European Constitutional Review
(EECR) symposium on the lack of “demand for law” in Russia.
Building on Kathryn Hendley’s 1996 work, Trying to Make Law Matter:
Legal Reform and Labor Law in the Soviet Union, this group of prominent scholars
explored the reasons why legal constructivism seemed to have failed in Russia.
They emphasized several points, in Hendley’s case the inherited public
cynicism toward law bred under Soviet rule, continuing favoratism towardthe
well-connected, the low chances for normal citizens to receive redress,and
the spectacular failure of public officials to obey their own laws.
Other scholars stressed other points, but all agreed, as Stephen Holmes wrote
in his introduction, “Although the ‘supply’ of law in the
Russian Federation has improved dramatically over the past eight years, ‘demand’
for law lags miserably behind.”
We do not have major theoretical differences with Hendley. Indeed,we
find the framework she develops intriguing, and we applaud her sociological
approach to making legal institutions work. But it must be recognized
that Hendley’s field research, on which she bases her conclusions,was
conducted in 1989-1990. In her 1996 book, Hendley qualifies herconclusions
by stating, “As of December 1991, little had changed withregard to[legal]
accessibility. Legal institutions were becoming highlyaccessible,but this
was largely irrelevant because people tended not totake advantageof it.”
As of December 1991. But by 1999,at the time ofthe EECR symposium,
things had changed radically. Inthis article, weshow that at that time,
Russian pensioners were in the midstof a massive,national, and coordinated
court campaign that sought to usethe Russian courtsystem to protect their
entitlements. This campaignhad been buildingfor some time, but reached
its height in 1999, receivingsubstantial attentionfrom the State Duma and
forcing legislative changes. We also suggestthat the pensioners’
court campaign is not an isolatedincident, norone limited to the Russian
Federation. Instead, the availableevidencesuggests that by the late
1990s, similar, and even larger, campaignswereevident in other areas of the
law, and in other countries of the formerSovietspace. We believe that
the example of the pensioners’court campaigndeserves scholarly attention
and should cause us to changethe way we viewthe demand for law in Russia.
The conventional wisdomthat “demandfor law is missing” in Russia
is outdated. The demand for lawin Russia is great; the problem is that
there’sjust not enough in theshops. And interestingly, demand
for law inRussia is particularly strongamong a segment of the population
most imbuedwith the Soviet mentality, formerSoviet pensioners.
3) Rastuschiy Spros na Zaconnosti v Rossii:
Sudebnaya Kompania Pensionerov (Boosting Demand for Law in Russia: The Pensioners’
Court Campaign), Sotsialinyi Mir (Social World), October 2001, Moscow.
This is a substantially revised and much condensed version of the EECR article.
It disproves the hypothesis about the low demand for the rule of law in Russia.
The bulk of the evidence is based on the court cases filed by pensionersagainst
the local agencies of social protection. In essence, pensioners demandedthe
lawful estimation of their benefits consistent with the calculation pension
law of February 1, 1998. The growing number of favorable rulings encouraged
pensioners to sue the government for unduly reduced benefits. The legal activism
of pensioners reached truly massive/national proportions, and hence, wasconceptualized
as a court campaign. As the court campaign indicates, therecertainly is viable
demand for law in Russia. In a situation where thereis a reasonable supply
for law (effectively on books), the remaining conditionfor making law matter
is having the state authorities abide by it.
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