The aim of this paper is to investigate under which conditions non-democratic political regimes are capable of making credible commitments to maintain a certain level of local autonomy and to incentivize local bureaucrats. For this purpose, we compare two big non-democratic countries—Russia and China. While China has managed to establish a relatively stable system, with substantial decision-making rights resting with sub-national governments, in Russia relations between the center and the regions have been highly unstable and driven primarily by the extent to which central elites consolidated their power. We argue that China has been able to make credible commitments because its non-democratic rule is based on competition between vertical elite networks that span regional and central political arenas, and because the country has limited access to natural resources: these two characteristics explain the difference between the two cases we investigate.

China, Local autonomy, Non-democracy, Russia,
Constitutional Political Economy
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Krug, B, & Libman, A. (2014). Commitment to local autonomy in non-democracies: Russia and China compared. Constitutional Political Economy, 26(2), 221–245. doi:10.1007/s10602-014-9181-z