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Russia’s Regions in Electoral and Legislative Politics: Actor Strategies and Voting Behavior

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
2018
Department: Laboratory for Regional Political Studies

Goal of research: the study of the party system structure on the national and regional tiers in the context of ongoing political and institutional reforms in Russia.

Methodology: comparative analysis of party systems (including calculation of electoral competition), analysis of territorial differentiation of voting behavior (social, cultural, economic and other factors), regression analysis, complex statistical analysis of regional diversity (including calculation of nationalization and regionalization), regional case studies, expert surveys.

Empirical base of research: social and economic statistics; electoral statistics; expert evaluations and surveys; sociological datasets; datasets of protest events; laws and regulations; mass media and Internet sources.

Results of research. The development of the theories of political institutions and regimes, federalism, as well as the nationalization of party systems.

There are several improvements in methodology concerning the application of quantitative methods and techniques of analysis of party systems and electoral space. Quantitative methods have been used for the first time to analyze defections from the parties (such as United Russia) and also coordination of protest events among different groups of opposition. 

A comparative study of the results of regional and federal elections allowed concluding that with a simultaneous vote, citizens give more support to the “party of power” in the federal elections than in the regional ones, and give more support to the opposition parties in the regional elections than in the federal ones. This result is due to the effect of strategic voting for the leading party, which is manifested in the federal elections. However this model of electoral behavior does not work on the local (municipal) level due to weakness and inactivity of opposition and strength of United Russia which has grown significantly in localities after 2012. The study of strategic voting in the Russia’s presidential elections showed that the incumbent effectively attracts ideologically non-biased electorate - increase in turnout in the presidential campaign, periphery of the left and nationalist electorate, centrists and supporters of small parties.

A study of the nationalization of the party system on the local tier showed a gradual decrease in the inflation of the Russia’s party system, which has been going on since 2007; as well as the growth of the nationalization of the party system, which began in 2012.

A study of the functioning of political parties in the context of hybrid political regimes showed that co-opting part of the opposition can be an effective way to limit both the protests and protest coordination in Russia’s regions. The study also revealed the reasons for politicians in the regions to make decisions on leaving United Russia and participating in elections from other parties (or as independent candidates). Such reasons were the co-optation of the opposition, leading to uncertainty regarding the distribution of leadership positions in legislatures, as well as the strong autonomous resources of the candidates. A cross-national study of the use of electoral reform in the interests of dominant parties showed that the introduction of proportional system is explained by the need to strengthen party discipline, in particular, if there are strong and independent elites in place and at the stage of creating a new ruling party. Russia proves to be an important case for comparative studies of electoral systems’ change.

Research into the causes and origins of electoral turnout and its dynamics in hybrid regimes showed that civic duty is the main mobilizing factor for the Russian voter - while the sense of duty in modern conditions is associated with supporting the current government and patriotism, which also creates an electoral advantage for the current government.

The study of the influence of economic factors on the regional diversity in Russia revealed the effectiveness of the federal center's budget policy in terms of its influence on regional inequality in Russia which is also important for political stability. In the meantime the study of the effectiveness of municipal heads showed a lower level of efficiency of city authorities in Russia in comparison with regional authorities.

Comparative international studies of the indicators of competition, nationalization and institutionalization of party systems - with examples of elections held in 2017-2018 in various countries of the world - showed an increase in the volatility of voting and a decrease in the level of nationalization of party systems which is contrary to Russia’s current trends.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results. The results concerning the influence of political institutions on the regional structure of the party system 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 efficiency of subnational authorities are encouraged to be used by the Ministry for Development of the Far East, the Ministry for the Affairs of the Northern Caucasus and regional executive bodies.

Publications:


Turovsky R. F., Sukhova M. CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS IN RUSSIA’S FEDERAL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS: ON THE WAY TO A COHESIVE PARTY SYSTEM? / Высшая школа экономики. Series PS "Political Science". 2018. 
Ben Noble Regional legislatures and national lawmaking // The Journal of Legislative Studies. 2019. Vol. 25. No. 1. P. 143-147. doi