Loyalty of Elites and Gubernatorial Elections: the Role of Pre-electoral Conflicts in the Voting Outcome

Loyalty of Elites and Gubernatorial Elections:
the Role of Pre-electoral Conflicts in the Voting Outcome

Sirotkina E.V.,

Junior Researcher, Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, sirotkina.elena@gmail.com

elibrary_id: 788824 |

Karandashova S.A.,

Master of Political Science, skarandashova@gmail.com

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.06.06
Rubric: Russia Today

For citation:

Sirotkina E.V., Karandashova S.A. Loyalty of Elites and Gubernatorial Elections: the Role of Pre-electoral Conflicts in the Voting Outcome. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No. 6. P. 76-91. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2017.06.06


Loyalty of elites is widely acknowledged to be the prerequisite for maintenance of autocratic regimes. However, loyalty of which elites is more important to establish high voting for an autocrat and a high turnout? As elections in electoral autocracies are designed to demonstrate superiority of the autocrat over his rivals, Russian subnational elections serve to legitimatize the leadership of a pre-decided race favorite rather than establish fair competition. Even given that there is no intrigue in the election outcome, do conflicts still influence the result of voting? And which conflicts prove to be the most influential on the elections result? Basing on empirical evidence of gubernatorial election in Russia we explore how conflicts between the governor and the elites at municipal and regional levels affect incumbents’ elections results. We collected electoral data for 43 regions and 1402 municipalities and coded qualitative data on conflicts between governor and elites. We find that conflicts between governors and the mayors of regional capitals have the only robust negative effect on both electoral result and turnout. In the regions with this conflict, governors receive up to about 16 percentage points lower support and 15 percentage point lower turnout. The explanation to the finding bases on the logic of mobilization machinery performance. Encouraging loyalty of these mayors secures smoother political machinery in the most electorally significant areas of the region (regional capitals) and thus has the most pronounced impact on the outcome of an electoral campaign. This finding provides another confirmation of the paramount role of covert rather than open inter-elite competition for electoral autocracies maintenance.

electoral autocracy; Russian politics; Russian regions; regional politics; gubernatorial elections; elites; clientelism; United Russia.


Baum D. Pinpointing Apparent Fraud in the 1861 Texas Secession Referendum. – Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 1991. Vol. 22. No. 2. P. 201-221. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/205866

Blaydes L. Authoritarian Elections and Elite Management: Theory and Evidence from Egypt. Paper presented at Princeton University Conference on Dictatorships. Princeton, NJ. 2008. 30 p.

Blaydes L. Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 2011. 288 p.

Bryan S., Baer D. Money in Politics: a Study of Party Financing Practices in 22 Countries. Washington, DC: National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. 2005. 156 p.

Cox G. Making Votes Count. Strategic Coordination in the World’s Electoral Systems. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 1997. 360 p. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139174954

Cox G., McCubbins M. Electoral Politics as a Redistributive Game. – Journal of Politics. 48. 1986. P. 370-389. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2131098

Frye T., Reuter O.J., Szakonyi D. Political Machines at Work: Voter Mobilization and Electoral Subversion in the Workplace. – World Politics. 2014. Vol. 66 No. 2. P. 195-228. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S004388711400001X

Gandhi J., Przeworski A. Cooperation, Cooptation, and Rebellion under Dictatorships. – Economics and Politics. 2006. Vol. 18. No. 1. P. 1-26. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0343.2006.00160.x

Gel’man V. From “Feckless Pluralism” to “Dominant Power Politics”? The Transformation of Russia’s Party System. – Democratization. 2006. Vol. 13. No.4. P. 545-561. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13510340600791848

Gel’man V., Lankina T. Authoritarian Versus Democratic Diffusions: Explaining Institutional Choices in Russia’s Local Government. – Post-Soviet Affairs. 2008. Vol. 24. No. 1. Р. 40-62.

Gelman B. From Local Government to the Vertical of Power. – Pro et Contra. 2007. No. 11. P. 6-18. (In Russ.)

Gelman V. Dinamika subnatsional’nogo avtoritarizma: Rossiya v sravnitel’noi perspektive [Dynamics of Subnational Authoritarianism: Russia in Comparative Perspective]. Saint Petersburg: Publishing House of the European University in St. Petersburg. 2008. 32 p. (In Russ.)

Gelman V.Ya. Leviathan’s Come-Back? (Policy of Recentralization in Contemporary Russia). – Polis. Political Studies. 2006. No. 2. P. 90-109. (In Russ.) DOI: https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2006.02.08

Gibson E. Boundary Control: Subnational Authoritarianism in Democratic Countries. – World Politics. 2005. Vol. 58. No. 1. P. 101-132. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/wp.2006.0018

Gill G. A New Turn to Authoritarian Rule in Russia? – Democratization. 2006. Vol. 13. No. 1. P. 58-77. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13510340500378258

Golosov G.V. Russia’s Regional Legislative Elections, 2003-2007: Authoritarianism Incorporated. – Europe-Asia Studies. 2011. Vol. 63. No. 3. P. 397-414. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2011.557533

Golosov G.V. The Regional Roots of Electoral Authoritarianism in Russia. – Europe-Asia Studies. 2011. Vol. 63. No. 4. 623-639. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2011.566427

Golosov G.V. The Territorial Genealogies of Russia’s Political Parties and the Transferability of Political Machines. – Post-Soviet Affairs. 2014. Vol. 30. No. 6. P. 464-480. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2014.882106

Hale H. Explaining Machine Politics in Russia’s Regions: Economy, Ethnicity, and Legacy. – Post-Soviet Affairs. 2003. Vol. 19. No. 3. P. 228-263.

Hale H. Why Not Parties in Russia? Democracy, Federalism, and the State. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 2006. 288 p. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2747/1060-586X.19.3.228

Han L. The Making of Political Elites in Autocracies: Evidence from the Chinese Communist Party (PhD Thesis). Harvard University, Oxford. 2007.

Hassner P. Russia’s Transition to Autocracy. – Journal of Democracy. 2008. Vol. 19. No. 2. P. 5-15. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2008.0022

ISEPR. Summary of the Project on the Study of Intra-Elite Cooperation in the Regions. – Politanalitika. 2014. (In Russ.) URL: http://politanalitika.ru/upload/iblock/817/817bf66ed02c7f992807ae31ee386f76.pdf (accessed 14.10.2017).

Kettering S. The Historical Development of Political Clientelism. – Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 1988. Vol. 18. No. 3. P. 419-447. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/203895

Kynev A., Lyubarev A., Maksimov A. 2015. Regional’nye i mestnye vybory 2014 goda v Rossii v usloviyakh novykh ogranichenii konkurentsii [Regional and Local Elections in 2014 in Russia Under New Restrictions of Competition]. Moscow: Liberal Mission Foundation. 372 p. (In Russ.)

Lankina T. Governing the Locals: Local Self-Government and Ethnic Mobilization in the Russian Federation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 2004. 232 p.

Lust E. Competitive Clientelism in the Middle East. – Journal of Democracy. 2009. Vol. 20. No. 3. P. 122-135. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.0.0099

Lust-Okar E. Elections under Authoritarianism: Preliminary Lessons from Jordan. – Democratization. 2006. Vol. 13. No. 3. P. 456-471. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13510340600579359

Magaloni B. Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and Its Demise in Mexico. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 2006. 316 p.

Moses J. Political-Economic Elites and Russian Regional Elections 1999-2000: Democratic Tendencies in Kaliningrad, Perm and Volgograd. – Europe-Asia Studies. 2002. Vol. 54. No. 6. P. 905-931. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0966813022000008456

Myagkov M., Ordeshook P. The Trail of Voters in Russia’s 1999 Duma and 2000 Presidential Elections. – Communist and Post-Communist Studies. 2001. Vol. 34. No. 3. P. 353-370. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-067X(01)00014-9

Podvintzev O. Governors-Varyags and the Regional Political Elite of Modern Russia. – Political Expertise Journal. 2009. No. 2. 56-72 p. (In Russ.)

Politics in the Russian Regions. Ed. by G. Gill. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2007. 219 p.

Powell L.N. Correcting for Fraud: A Quantitative Reassessment of the Mississippi Ratification Election of 1868. – Journal of Southern History. 1989. Vol. 55. No. 4. P. 633-658. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2209043

Reuter O.J. Buckley N., Shubenkova A., Garifullina G. Local Elections in Authoritarian Regimes: An Elite-Based Theory with Evidence From Russian Mayoral Elections. – Comparative Political Studies. 2016. Vol. 49. No. 5. P. 662-697. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414015626439

Reuter O.J. Regional Patrons and Hegemonic Party Electoral Performance in Russia. – Post-Soviet Affairs. 2013. Vol. 29. No. 2. P. 101-135.

Reuter O.J., Remington T.F. Dominant Party Regimes and the Commitment Problem the Case of United Russia. – Comparative Political Studies. 2009. Vol. 42. No. 4. P. 501-526. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414008327426

Ross C. Federalism and Democratisation in Russia. – Communist and Post-Communist Studies. 2000. Vol. 33. No. 4. P. 403-420. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-067X(00)00013-1

Ross C. Municipal Reform in the Russian Federation and Putin’s “Electoral Vertical”. – Demokratizatsiya. 2007. Vol. 15. No. 2. P. 191-208. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3200/DEMO.15.2.191-208

Schedler A. The Logic of Electoral Authoritarianism. – Electoral Authoritarianism: The Dynamics of Unfree Competition. Ed. by A. Schedler. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner. 2006. 267 p.

Sharafutdinova G. Getting the Dough and Saving the Machine: Lessons from Tatarstan. – Demokratizatsiya. 2013. Vol. 21. No. 4. P. 507-529.

Shvetsova O. Resolving the Problem of Preelection Coordination: The 1999 Parliamentary Election as an Elite Presidential Primary. – The 1999-2000 Elections in Russia: Their Impact and Legacy. Ed. By V. Hesli, W. Reisinger. P. 213-231. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 2003. 316 p. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511550355.010

Slider D. Governors Versus Mayors: the Regional Dimension of Russian Local Government. – The Politics of Local Government in Russia. Ed. by A. Evans, V. Gel’man. 2004. P. 145-168. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 308 p.

Slider D. How United Is United Russia? Regional Sources of Intra-Party Conflict. – Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics. 2010. Vol. 26. No. 2. P. 257-275. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13523271003712617

Stokes S. Perverse Accountability: a Formal Model of Machine Politics with Evidence from Argentina. – American Political Science Review. 2005. Vol. 99. No. 3. P. 315-325. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055405051683

Tezcur B. Intra-Elite Struggle in Iranian Elections. – Political Participation in the Middle East. Ed. by E. Lust-Okar, S. Zerhouni. 2008. P. 51-74. Boulder, CO: Lynee Rienner. 301 p.

Turovsky R. Itogi i uroki gubernatorskikh vyborov [Results and Lessons of Gubernatorial Elections]. – Politika v regionakh: gubernatory v regionakh i gruppy vliyaniya. Pod red. B. Makarenko [Policy in the Regions: the Governors in the Regions and the Impact of the Group. Ed. by B. Makarenko]. Moscow: Center for Political Technologies. 2002. P. 8-43. (In Russ.)

Turovsky R. The Liberal and the Authoritarian: How Different are Russian Regions? – The Politics of Sub-National Authoritarianism in Russia. Ed. by V. Gel’man, C. Ross. 2010. P. 19-38. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate. 248 p.

Turovsky R., Karandashova S. 2014. Gubernatorial Elections in 2014: Competition, Transformed into a Plebiscite. (In Russ.) URL: http://politcom.ru/18096.html (accessed 14.10.2016).

Turovsky R.F. Regional Political Regimes in Russia: to the Methodology of Analysis. – Polis. Political Studies. 2009. No. 2. P. 77-95. (In Russ.) URL: http://www.politstudies.ru/article/4108 (accessed 04.10.2017).

White S., Rose R., McAllister I. How Russia Votes. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers. 1997. 332 p.

Wright J. Do Authoritarian Institutions Constrain? How Legislatures Affect Economic Growth and Investment. – American Journal of Political Science. 2008. Vol. 52. No. 2. P. 322-343. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00315.x

Yadav V., Mukherjee B. The Politics of Corruption in Dictatorships. Cambridge, UK: University Press. 2014. 336 p.

Zubarevich N. I Came, I Saw, I Conquered? Big Business and the Regional Authorities. – Pro et Contra. 2002. Vol. 7. No. 1. P. 107-119. (In Russ.) 

Content No. 6, 2017

See also:

Makarenko B.I.,
Post-soviet party of power: the «United Russia» in a comparative context. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No1

Round Table of the «Polis» Journal, Streltsov D.V., Chugrov S.V., Karelova L.B., Oznobishchev S.K.,
Russia and Japan. Part II. View from Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2014. No1

Rutland P.,
Russia’s Post-Soviet Elite. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No3

Inozemtzev V.L.,
Prospects of Russia’s development in a new political cycle. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No3

Round Table of the «Polis» Journal, Gaman-Golutvina O.V., Avdonin V.S., Sergeyev S.A., Chernikova V.V., Sidenko O.A., Sokolov A.V., Evdokimov N.A., Tupaev A.V., Slatinov V.B., Zhukov I.K., Kozlova N.N., Rassadin S.V., Chugrov S.V.,
Regional political processes: how «subjective» are subjects of the RF. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No5



   2024      2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991