Governing in Post-Soviet States

Traditions, Reform Discourses and Institutional Politics

Governments in many post-Soviet states have been characterized by centralization, informal coordination, personal dependencies and institutional instability. Directly elected presidents and their administrations defined and supervised the discretion of prime ministers, ministers and ministerial officials. These models of governing were fraught with numerous coordination problems that have necessitated institutional reforms and led several states to initiate projects of constitutional or administrative reform. Domestic reformers have frequently resorted to foreign advisers and have drawn on international ideas and approaches.

The project intends to compare the trajectories and outcomes of these efforts in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. The models of public governance in these states have been subject to different formative influences. They depend more on foreign support than Russia or the Eurasian states with natural resources. However, the EU’s influence may be limited by its refusal of a membership perspective. Changes of government were associated with overcoming Soviet legacies and refering to earlier traditions of constitutionalism.

The project seeks to reconstruct and explain the paths of these states as interactions between Soviet and autochthonous traditions of governing, reform discourses and the incorporation of foreign ideas, and the institutional policies of domestic political actors. It is assumed that imported rules acquire institutional legitimacy, if they are supported by broad coalitions of actors and linked to existing state and administrative traditions.

This focus of research is based on interpretationist approaches of executive studies that view governance as a result of practices, narratives and traditions political actors refer to. Earlier studies in the project have shown that the availability of legitimizing ideas strongly influences the relations between states and economic actors in post-Soviet countries. In addition, the project builds on previous work that has explored the emergence of national varieties of executive governance.