The interaction between ideas and actors' interests

The empirical evidence in this book supports the conjuncture that ideas and interests can mutually reinforce each other. This was best illustrated by the adoption of the 'hollow' paradigm. Radical market housing ideas and the desire of the new government of the RSFSR for a radical break with Soviet policy and the all-Union authority coincided and reinforced each other in the final Soviet years. Equally, the adoption of free and rapid housing privatisation, which was central to the spread of the owner-occupation paradigm, matched the government's wish for the adoption of a highly popular policy to arrest its declining popularity in late 1992. Furthermore, congruence between the alternative mixed ownership paradigm during the 2000s and the interests of Russian federal policy-makers in this sub-case ensured the institutionalisation of rents and cooperatives in policy documents.

In the HUS issue area, it was observed that policy ideas that clashed with policy-makers' interests were rejected. This was the case with the instrument of tariff regulation, which because it was associated with Soviet housing practice was rejected by the government of radical economic reformers in the early 1990s. Once the link with the Soviet period was broken the idea of tariff regulation was eventually accepted and included in policy. Another example from the HUS sub-case is the link between the interests of regional authorities and the recently introduced instrument of savings accounts for major maintenance works. These savings are to be administered by the regional administrations. In the housing finance issue area, the connection between the idea of a mortgage agency and the policy-makers self-interest in developing opportunities in the private sector coincided and supported each other in the 1990s. The formation at the federal and regional levels of mortgage agencies funded by budget resources allowed some government officials at these levels to participate in the commercial activities of these agencies. During the last decade, the agency-based system of housing finance has coincided with the pursuit of the state-led development by the Russian government. This has contributed to the continued dominance of this model of mortgage funding in Russia. By contrast, its paradigmatic alternative, while promoting interests of certain business communities, has clashed with the interests and policy implementation preferences of the country's top leadership. This has blocked the adoption of the European housing finance ideas in policy, at least for now.

In all three sub-cases, the fit between ideas and interests was important during the process of policy implementation. Policy ideas that contradicted the interests of regional and local bureaucracies and societal actors were compromised at the implementation stage. This can be illustrated with the reference to the ideas of rental and cooperative housing. As Chapter 4 demonstrated, the implementation of these options has been hindered by the lack of agreement between these ideas and the interests of the grass-root actors such as the construction industry and local administrations, which are closely related. Another example is the failure to implement the idea of associations of homeowners. This idea was opposed by local authorities and often by individual apartment owners as demonstrated in chapters 4 and 5. Moreover, local municipalities aimed to preserve long-established relations (with the local HUS firms), which could have been undermined by the introduction of public control in the form of condominiums. The individual homeowners, on the other hand, often feared losing budget subsidies administered by municipalities or being defrauded by what were perceived as rogue commercial HUS operators.

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