This study investigates the institutional influence on Russia’s regional voter turnout and establishes differences between federal and regional voter participation. Given the regional turnout in the 2011–2016 national and regional elections, the authors test the hypothesis that Russia’s turnout largely hinges on institutional rather than socio-economic factors. For a deeper analysis of electoral behavior, the researchers consider a range of institutional aspects applicable to the country’s regional peculiarities. Such an empirical approach demonstrates that different types of elections are conditioned by different indicators and metrics. Consequently, the analysis proves the relevance of institutional factors to voter turnout.
This study examines the dynamics of electoral reforms in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and their influence on the disproportionality of parliamentary representation since the electoral system experienced major changes in 2003. We suggest that some characteristics of the electoral system may be highly instrumental in ensuring and maintaining United Russia’s influence in legislative bodies. This makes it possible to classify them as forms of institutional manipulation typical of electoral authoritarianism. Based on the statistical description and regression analysis, the study demonstrates the impact of some elements of electoral reforms on disproportionality during the periods at issue. At the same time, we can identify the methods of cementing the dominant party’s hold on power that the authorities find the most effective. In this regard, we make the conclusion that certain elements of the electoral system function as a balanced mechanism, which is evidenced by how they have been used during the different periods. Additionally, the study analyses the impact of disproportionality on electoral behavior, with the hypothesis about its negative influence on the electoral turnout being supported. Yet we regard the lower turnout as a consequence of the voting behavior of both the opposition’s supporters and loyalists. Finally, the electoral reforms in Russia seem to have put limits on disproportionality of parliamentary representation due to the issue of legitimacy.
This article examines the differences between Russian voting at federal elections and regional legislature elections, both combined and conducted independently. The authors analyse these differences, their character and their dynamics as an important characteristic of the nationalisation of the party system. They also test hypotheses about a higher level of oppositional voting and competitiveness in subnational elections, in accordance with the theory of second-order elections, as well as the strategic nature of voting at federal elections, by contrast with expressive voting during subnational campaigns. The empirical study is based on calculating the differences in votes for leading Russian parties at subnational elections and at federal elections (simultaneous, preceding and following) from 2003, when mandatory voting on party lists was widespread among the regions, to 2019. The level of competitiveness is measured in a similar way, by calculating the effective number of parties. The study indicates a low level of autonomy of regional party systems, in many ways caused by the fact that the law made it impossible to create regional parties, and then also by the 2005 ban on creation of regional blocs. The strong connection between federal and regional elections in Russia clearly underlines the fluid and asynchronic nature of its electoral dynamics, where subnational elections typically predetermine the results of the following federal campaigns. At the same time, the formal success of the nationalisation of the party system, achieved by increasing the homogeneity of voting at the 2016 and 2018 federal elections, is not reflected by the opposing process of desynchronisation between federal and regional elections after Putin’s third-term election. There is also a clear rise in the scale of the differences between the two. At the same time, the study demonstrates the potential presence in Russia of features common to subnational elections in many countries: their greater support for the opposition and presence of affective voting. However, there is a clear exception to this trend during the period of maximum mobilisation of the loyal electorate at the subnational elections immediately following the accession of Crimea in 2014–2015, and such tendencies are generally restrained by the conditions of electoral authoritarianism.
This paper explores the impact of vote mobilization and economic performance on gubernatorial appointments in Russia. Previous research has demonstrated that governors are more likely to be reappointed when the regime is performing well at the polls in the region. By contrast, there is inconsistent evidence that regional economic performance affects a governor’s reappointment chances. We revisit this topic by updating and extending quantitative analyses of these key questions. We find consistent evidence that governors are more likely to be reappointed when regime vote shares are high in the region, a finding that extends from 2005 through 2020 and is robust to various model specifications and measurement approaches. In an update to existing research, we also show that this finding holds for multiple types of elections – regional legislative, State Duma and presidential – and we also find that high turnout is positively associated with governor reappointment. With respect to economic indicators, we find some suggestive evidence that governors are more likely to be reappointed when regional unemployment is decreasing, and investment and tax revenue are increasing, but these results are not robust. By evaluating governors on the basis of their ability to mobilize votes the center risks disincentivizing good governance. It may also give governors additional incentive to engage in electoral manipulation.