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Regionalization of Russia’s Political Space: The Origins, Magnitude, and Evolution

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
2016
Department: Laboratory for Regional Political Studies
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research: study of regionalization of Russia’s political space as a result of interactions of regional actors’ strategies (including the federal center as the emerging dominant player), the effectiveness of which in some way depends on exogenous factors.

Methodology: regression analysis (OLS, panel and dynamic);correlation analysis; principal component analysis, descriptive statistics, data envelopment analysis (DEA); expert survey and evaluation.

Empirical base of research: social and economical statistics (Russian Federal State Statistics Service, Unified Interdepartmental Statistical Information System, Ministry of Finance); surveys concerning popular assessment of subnational governments’ performance in Russia (Russian Public Opinion Research Center and “Public Opinion” Foundation); electoral statistics (Central and subnational electoral committees in Russia and abroad); expert evaluations on current political decisions in Russian regions; laws and regulations; mass media and Internet.

Results of research: The study has contributed to the development of the theories of democracy, federalism, electoral behavior, party system nationalization and inter-budgetary relations. In addition, there are some methodological improvements that facilitate the analysis of development and consequences of regionalization of political space, i.e. improvement of complex approach to the study of electoral data. A new approach to the investigation of electoral protest has been elaborated in order to define the opportunities for regional analysis in this area. The research also provides a new knowledge based on empirical data in the field of inter-budgetary relations: the concept of "politically sensitive transfers" has been revealed. Some techniques for studying political, social and economical effectiveness of the regional government in Russia have been improved by means of Data Envelopment Analysis. The research provides a new knowledge based on empirical data in the field of subnational comparative studies. The analysis of retrospective voting has showed the growing impact of economical factors (like pensions and poverty growth). In the same time, the “structural” variables (urbanization, share of ethnic Russians) are getting less influence on voting. In this case, the Russians are guided by their personal well-being, but not by the macroeconomic trends (egoistical vs. sociotropic voting). Therefore, the regularity confirms the rational choice theory, in particular, the idea of self-interested actor. The study of nationalization of voting in the regional parliamentary elections has revealed the fundamental mismatch of factors causing spatial homogenization of the support of political parties in the Western consolidated democracies ("social cleavages" theory) and in Russia. The domestic case increasingly points out to importance of regional elites’ consolidation as a factor influencing on the electoral success of the "party of power" (“United Russia”). Study of nationalization of Russia’s party system explains the low level of nationalization in Russia and links its changes to the attitudes of the regions towards the federal government. Analysis of gubernatorial elections demonstrates a gradual formation of such breakdowns of regional elites that led to the low level of competition. The study of intergovernmental transfers’ distribution has revealed that in addition to the governors’ lobbying capacities and region's electoral loyalty to the federal center it is also important to take into account the geopolitical vulnerability of the regions.

Level of implementation,  recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results. The results concerning regionalization of political space and retrospective voting can be used by the Presidential Administration in order to predict the level of stability and support of the authorities and political parties in the regions. The results of the study of political factors of inter-budgetary relations can be used by the Russian Government to improve intergovernmental relations. Results of the evaluation of the performance of subnational executive bodies are encouraged to be used by the Ministry for Economic Development, the Ministry for the Development of the Far East, the Ministry of Northern Caucasus Affairs, and regional executive bodies.

Publications:


Гайворонский Ю. О. Политическая конкуренция, качество институтов и эффективность региональной исполнительной власти в регионах России
Туровский Р. Ф. Губернаторские выборы в постсоветской России: изменения и преемственность // В кн.: XVII Апрельская международная научная конференция по проблемам развития экономики и общества: в 4 кн. / Отв. ред.: Е. Г. Ясин. Кн. 2. М. : Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2017. С. 160-167.
Gaivoronsky Y. The dual logic of Russia's party system nationalization // Communist and Post-Communist Studies. 2019. Vol. 52. No. 4. P. 323-330. doi
Turovsky R. F. Russia’s Electoral Space: Change and Continuity in Post-Soviet Perspective / Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ. Series PS "Political Science". 2016.