The Trail of Votes in Russia's 1999 Duma and 2000 Presidential Elections

Mikhail Myagkov and Peter Ordeshook


Russia's array of political parties, based largely on Moscow-centered personalities with presidential aspirations rather than on coherent policy programs, continued its seemingly directionless evolution in 1999, with the appearance of two new "parties" – Otechestvo and Edinstvo. The Russian electorate, by contrast, offered a picture of surprising stability, at least from 1991 through 1996, as the flow of votes across elections from one party or candidate to the next followed a coherent pattern. Aggregate election returns suggest that this pattern persisted through the 1999 Duma balloting to the 2000 presidential election. Here, we offer a close examination of official rayon-level election returns from both 1999 and 2000 and conclude that this picture of stability masks the ability of regional governors to direct the votes of their electorates in a nearly wholesale fashion. This conclusion is significant for reform of Russia's institutions towards encouraging a coherent party system. Specifically, rather that focusing on electoral institutional factors, we argue that the principal culprit in explaining the failure of a coherent party system to materialize is the influence of Russia's super-presidentialism.

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