Among the regions of Russia, many ethnic republics are distinguished by a higher level of electoral mobilization and political loyalty. However, in some of them recently, at the level of official statistics, a decrease in electoral support for incumbents from the titular ethnic groups has been recorded. Why is the stability of the political behavior of voters maintained in a number of ethnic republics, while in others there is volatility of this indicator? Why do a number of ethnic republics consistently reproduce an electoral super-majority for incumbents, while others do not differ in this indicator from most Russian regions?
To answer these questions, the study uses both quantitative data from official statistics and original qualitative data collected by focus groups in five Russian republics: Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Komi, Chuvashia, and Yakutia. The analysis of the collected data made it possible to identify the main factors that determine the variation in the electoral behavior of titular ethnic groups after the 2017 language reform.
In particular, it is shown that the structure of regional elites is a key factor in electoral volatility. Its transformation from monolithic to fragmented leads to an increase in the activity of independent national organizations, which undermine the monopoly of the head of the region on framing national problems and controlling the electorate. The economic factor in the form of the level of industrial development determines the difference between the regions in terms of the reproduction of the electoral super-majority. Republics with a monolithic elite and a developed industrial sector are able to maintain the stability of electoral behavior, providing an electoral supermajority. While in the republics with a monolithic elite structure in the absence of a developed industrial sector, only stability can be maintained without the reproduction of an electoral super-majority for incumbents.
Stanislav Shkel, is an Academy of Finland Visiting Fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute, and Professor of Political Science at the Higher School of Economics – St. Petersburg
The seminar is organized together with the ElMaRB project.
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