Hale lays out a comprehensive re-interpretation of state-society interactions

PONARS Eurasia
12 Jul 2017

(opendemocracy) Ukraine’s clan networks are re-asserting their power again. Western partners need to think carefully about whom to support and how. Strange things are happening in Kyiv. In spring 2017, two prominent Ukrainian politicians — Mykola Martynenko, a former MP, and Roman Nasirov, former head of country’s fiscal service — were arrested on corruption charges to significant fanfare. Soon, however, both men were released: Nasirov on a bail of UAH100 million (£2.9m) paid by his wife, and Martynenko without any bail. While the cases remain under investigation, the two suspects are free to move. [...]

What does all this mean? A recent book outlines, in detail, a new theory of post-Soviet political rule and helps to explain the curious contradictions in Ukraine’s politics today.

In 2015, Henry E. Hale, a political scientist at George Washington University, published a ground-breaking monograph under the intriguing title Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective. In this broad study of post-Soviet socio-economic and political life, Hale lays out a comprehensive re-interpretation of state-society interactions, oligarchic rule, center-periphery relations, presidential as well as economic power, parliamentary affairs, party building, policy formation and media landscapes, in the USSR’s successor states.

Here, Hale demonstrates the universal salience within the political process, and deep penetration into many social spheres, of patron-client relationships, clan-like networks and rent-extracting mechanisms. This allows him to assert the existence of hidden regimes in these countries — where political competition and decision-making happen via processes incompletely or not at all reflected in the officially recorded actions of state institutions, political parties and civic organisations. Moreover, this regime type is partially dissociated and independent from the familiar distinctions, in western political science, between totalitarian, authoritarian, hybrid and democratic rule. [...]

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