Regional elections in Russia: instruments of authoritarian legitimacy or instability?

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Abstract

This study examines three rounds of regional assembly and gubernatorial elections in Russia which took place in September 2015, 2016 and 2017. In particular, it examines the ways in which the regime has manipulated the elections to guarantee the victory of United Russia. The study shows that the Kremlin has adopted a new electoral strategy. Rather than engaging in the risky business of outright fraud during the vote count, which was an important factor in sparking mass protests against the regime, in the wake of the 2011 elections to the State Duma, the authorities have decided to concentrate their efforts on preventing opposition parties and candidates from registering for the elections. Whilst other forms of electoral malpractice have continued to be practiced, such as coercing or bribing voters to turn out and vote for United Russia, promoting “carousel voting” (multiple voting by groups of mobilised citizens), or ballot stuffing, much more focus has been paid in these elections on manipulating the registration process in favour of United Russia. As is clearly demonstrated, scores of opposition candidates and party lists, have been prevented from competing because of problems with their registration documents. However, whilst this strategy has helped United Russia win large majorities in all of the gubernatorial and assembly elections, it has also created lacklustre and predictable contests, and this in turn has led to a sharp decline in turnout, particularly in the gubernatorial elections. There is a real danger that these low levels of turnout may gradually erode the legitimacy of United Russia, embolden the opposition, and threaten the stability of the regime
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPalgrave Communications
Volume4
Issue number75
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2018

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