The mirror labyrinth of municipal reform: the Constitutional Court practice as a way-finder through a maze

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Authors: Armen Dzhagaryan, Natalia Dzhagaryan

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2016-5-14-42

Keywords: centralization and decentralization; constitutional justice; local government; local self-government; municipal democracy; personcentred; персоноцентризм; централизация и децентрализация


The Russian Constitution establishes the local self-government as one of the fundamental democratic values and the foundation of the constitutional order. However, the practical work of municipal bodies indicates that the process of development of local democracy is rather slow and does not seem irreversible. Municipal reform has in many aspects lost its clear meaning and turned into a mirror labyrinth of real politics. The faith in the salvaging role of centralized authority, inherited from the past, though not fully groundless in turbulent times, in the end leads the local communities and the whole society into the trap of bureaucratic crisis. In realities of our country, the state is often inclined to consider the local government simply as an agency servicing its own administrative and political interests. And there is also a functional, organizational and legal subordination of the municipal authorities to the machinery of the centralised state. Serious risks of “verticalization” of power in the long-time perspective will inevitably lead to negative consequences. Narrowing of direct democracy at municipal level is often accompanied by the growth of formalism and bureaucratisation of representative bodies and the dominance of administrative structures. Only open, transparent and honest electoral politics (including the grass-roots level) may ensure positive historical experience fostering civic culture and culture of governance. From the viewpoint of the constitutional justice, this paper shows the necessity to develop municipal democracy respecting human dignity and rights and considering everyone’s needs and interests. This is the best way to solve problems in key areas of the municipal development as well as to educate every person in the spirit of commitment to the democratic constitutional values and the rule of law.

About the authors: Armen Dzhagaryan – Doctor of Sciences in Law, advisor to Judge, Russian Constitutional Court; Natalia Dzhagaryan – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Associate Professor of Municipal Law and Environmental Law, Southern Federal University.

Citation: Dzhagaryan A., Dzhagaryan N. (2016) Zerkal'nyy labirint munitsipal'noy reformy: konstitutsionno-sudebnaya praktika kak osnova dlya poiska vy­khodov [The mirror labyrinth of municipal reform: the Constitutional Court practice as a way-finder through a maze]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.5, pp.14–42. (In Russian).


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