The Ambivalence of Federalism and Democracy: The Challenging Case of Authoritarianism—With Evidence from the Russian Case

  • Sabine KroppEmail author
Part of the Comparative Territorial Politics book series (COMPTPOL)


Although federalism is often conceptualized as a subcomponent of democracy, a considerable number of hybrid and authoritarian regimes feature federal structures as well. To explore this puzzle, the chapter discusses basic tensions with which ‘authoritarian federalism’ is faced: one arising from the defective rule of law, another one from restrictions of plurality, and, finally, from loyalty conflicts to which sub-federal incumbents are exposed. It is argued that similar tensions resulting from federal organization also occur in democracies, but authoritarian and democratic federations respond differently to these challenges. Moreover, the chapter reveals that even though federalism triggers uncertainty in authoritarian regimes, rulers at the central level profit from federal organization. Evidence is taken from the Russian case which can be understood as a ‘typical case’ in this respect.


Authoritarianism Federalism Rule of law Russia Sub-federal elites 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Free University of BerlinBerlinGermany

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