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Subnational tier of political and party systems: comparative analysis

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
2020
Department: Laboratory for Regional Political Studies

Goal of research

Study of modern processes of territorial integration and disintegration of political and party systems, including the problems of state capacity in conditions of regional diversity and directly at the subnational political level, factors and practices of territorial integration, consolidation (homogeneity) and deconsolidation (heterogeneity) in electoral behavior in a multilevel electoral system.

Methodology

A comprehensive structural analysis of party systems at the national and regional levels (with the determination of the indices of electoral competition by mathematical methods); factor analysis of territorial differentiation of votes (socio-cultural, economic, geographic and other factors); regression analysis (identifying the influence of institutional, socio-economic and other factors on the appointment of governors, voting results, co-optation of the opposition, etc.); statistical analysis of the level of regional diversity of party systems (with the definition of the nationalization index, etc.); comparative historical method; international and interregional classifications.

Empirical base of research

Electoral statistics (Central and subnational electoral committees in Russia and abroad); statistical data on the financial and socio-economic situation in the regions of Russia (Russian Federal State Statistics Service, Ministry of Finance, Federal Treasury); laws and regulations; expert ratings, information on public statements and other actions of political leaders (mass media and Internet sources).

Results of research

In the field of theory, the result of research produced a number of clarifications within the framework of theories of state capacity (primarily at its subnational level, where the theory is still poorly developed), bureaucratic appointments in partially centralized political systems, subnational and federalized party systems, second-order elections, and nationalization of politics and party systems in different political regimes.

The result of research in the methodological sphere was the improvement of the methodology for studying party systems and electoral space, state capacity, including its subnational level, the practice of bureaucratic appointments, relations between authorities and opposition through the application of quantitative methods and techniques of data analysis.

The study of regional state capacity made it possible to find new confirmation of theories about the presence of a clientelist type of regime in Russia, where subnational political capacity, as the study showed, is most dependent on the links between regional political actors and the highest political elites. In addition, it was possible to identify that the internal cohesion of the regional authorities, the managerial experience of the governor, as well as the economic resources of the region have a positive effect on subnational state capacity. The study also demonstrated deep differences in the level of infrastructural state capacity in the regions: even in conditions of strict centralization, it is not possible to achieve widespread success in the implementation of federal decisions of a socio-economic nature due to the high regional diversity.

A comparative study of subnational party systems in Western and Latin American federations led to the conclusion that at the subnational level in modern federal states, the formation of fully autonomous regional party systems rarely occurs, despite the institutional prerequisites that originally exist in federal states. At the same time, a comparative analysis of federations made it possible to classify them according to the degree of autonomy of subnational party systems, identifying the reasons for international differences associated with the political regime, state organization, the nature of the decentralization of power, political and historical traditions. In addition, only partial correspondence of modern subnational elections in federations to the classical ideas about second-order elections was revealed, with noticeable discrepancies explained by the national and regional historical and political context.

A comparative analysis of regional and federal elections in Russia illustrates even more clearly the thesis about the lack of autonomy of regional party systems, but it demonstrates that modern trends in Russia are directed towards increasing electoral differences between regional and federal elections, explained by different models of electoral behavior at different territorial levels of elections, which in the case of Russia is a good match for the theory of second-order elections. In addition, a comparative analysis of the modern processes of regionalization and nationalization of party systems in the world in various political regimes and under various electoral and party systems using the examples of the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019-2020 in the countries of the world revealed a trend towards an increase in voting volatility and a decrease in the level of nationalization of party systems.

An analysis of the practices of appointing the heads of Russian regions by the federal center for the entire post-Soviet period, carried out using comparative historical and regression analyses, showed that the most significant factors are those associated with patron-client ties and intra-elite relations that cannot be quantified. Some periods of governors’ appointments were entirely associated with these factors. At the same time, it was possible to identify quantitative patterns associated, in contrast to the conclusions of other studies, not with the election results, but with the managerial efficiency of governors in the socio-economic sphere, regional social risks, as well as natural rotation associated with the age of governors.

The study of parliamentary politics and relations between the branches of government in the regions of Russia using the example of the practice of co-opting the opposition to leading positions in regional legislative bodies made it possible not only to reveal the fundamental difference between regional practices and federal ones, but also to demonstrate the difference in the applied co-optation practices at the regional level. In this part of the study, it was possible, on the one hand, to clarify theory-based theses about the influence of the strength of the opposition on its co-optation, and on the other hand, to demonstrate the absence or weak nature of the expected co-optation effects in the form of a reduction in opposition protest activity in the regions. A study of the practices of parliamentary control over executive bodies at the national level revealed a number of patterns: as a rule, legislatures are loyal to the autocrat and at the same time exercise broader control over those executive bodies that the autocrat does not directly control. Thus, the autocrat uses the legislature to control those ministries whose powers he delegated to other actors; at the same time, ministries directly controlled by the autocrat are not subject to such close scrutiny by parliament.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The results concerning the analysis of electoral behavior can be used by the Presidential Administration of Russia in order to predict the stability of support for the authorities and political parties both at the federal level and in the regions. It is proposed to use the results concerning studying the logic of governor appointments by The Presidential Administration of Russia, the Federal Government and regional executive bodies.

Publications:


Gandhi J., Noble B., Svolik M. Legislatures and Legislative Politics without Democracy // Comparative Political Studies. 2020. Vol. 53. No. 9. P. 1359-1379. doi
Turovsky R. F., Луизидис Е. М. AUTONOMY OF SUBNATIONAL PARTY SYSTEMS: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF FEDERATIONS / Высшая школа экономики. Series PS "Political Science". 2021.