International Workshop: “Post-Communist Transformations: The Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia in Comparative Perspective”

January 5, 2009, by Atsushi Ogushi  



Inviting three well-known foreign specialists from the US, the UK and the Czech Republic along with three Japanese scholars, an international workshop, “Post-Communist Transformations: The Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia in Comparative Perspective,” was held at the Slavic Research Center on December 5, 2008. This workshop was part of a three-year project led by Professor Tadayuki Hayashi, “Comprehensive Comparative Analysis of the System Transformation in the CIS and East-European Countries,” which is sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science as Grants-in-Aid (A).

At the first panel discussion on Russian politics, Atsushi Ogushi discussed the development of the executive diarchy in Russia (presidency and government) from the CC CPSU and the Council of Ministers in the USSR. In this context, Ogushi argued that the role of the presidential administration is to contain departmental and centrifugal bureaucracy. The huge discrepancies between the “regime” based upon administrative power and institutionalized constitutional politics as a fundamental problem of contemporary Russian politics were investigated by Richard Sakwa. Such gulfs were exemplified by the weak representational role of political parties and so forth. A discussant, Kimitaka Matsuzato, and many other participants addressed questions over the role of contingencies in the formation of the Russian diarchy, the current role of the United Russia party in Russian politics, the “uniqueness” of Russian society, and others.

At the second panel discussion, Peter Rutland compared Russian and Chinese development models, both of which started from different points, developed through different paths, but are now converging into a similar model, a sort of “regulated market.” Akira Uegaki, having devised his own analytical model, investigated the “backward” economic structures of Romania and Bulgaria comparing them with other East European countries. Discussant Shinichiro Tabata and several other participants raised important questions and made timely comments. For example, are the Russian and Chinese development models really converging? Although the “backward” economic structures of Romania and Bulgaria are regarded as a negative phenomenon, under the current financial crisis, there seems to be an upside of their “backwardness.” While more “advanced” countries like Hungary are suffering heavily from the crisis, Romania and Bulgaria have been less involved in the world economy and, therefore, have been less damaged.

At the third panel discussion, with close examination of empirical data, the large institutional diversity of the social welfare system in Central and Eastern Europe, and the development of the Czech welfare system were demonstrated by Martin Potůček. Manabu Sengoku, based on qualitative and quantitative data, explained such institutional diversity by highlighting the influences of political and social actors (mainly political parties, and trade unions). Many questions concerning the typology of institutional diversity, the degree of influence wielded by the trade unions, and the impact of the EU on the welfare system, including those raised by a discussant Takayuki Ito, were addressed.

The proceedings of the workshop will be published at a later date.

Program:
10:00-12:00

Atsushi Ogushi (SRC), "From the CC CPSU to  Russian Presidency: Development of Semi-Presidentialism in Russia"
Richard Sakwa (University of Kent), “Subject or Citizens: Obstacles to the Exercise of Constitutional Sovereignty Rights in Contemporary Russia.”
Discussant: Kimitaka Matsuzato (SRC)
13:30-15:30

Peter Rutland (Wesleyan University), “Post-socialist States and the Evolution of a New Development Model: Russia and China Compared”
Akira Uegaki, (Seinan Gakuin University), “EU Integration and ‘Backwardness’ of New Member States: In Case of Romania and Bulgaria
Discussant: Shinichiro Tabata (SRC)
15:45-17:45

Martin Potucek (Charles University), "Welfare or Wild Capitalism in Post-Communist Europe?"
Manabu Sengoku (Seinan Gakuin University), “Welfare State Institutions and Welfare Politics in Central and Eastern Europe: Political Background of Institutional Diversity”
Discussant: Takayuki Ito (Waseda University)

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*The views expressed in the essay belong solely to the author and do not represent the official position of any organizations to which the author is permanently or was temporarily affiliated.

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