6 - 2007
Gelman V.Ya., Lankina T.V.

Political Diffusions under the Conditions of a Spatially Mixed Regime: Institution-building and Election of City Mayors in Russia


Why do some newly-established democratic institutions survive while others perish? The authors of the article turn to the problem of answering this question using the example of election of city mayors in Russia. They address themselves to the puzzle of the survival of the institution of elected city mayors despite the efforts of the national government to abolish it, as well as to that of the spatial/geographic variations in the relevant institutional choices by regional elites. Statistical analysis challenges predominant approaches to democratic institution-building. Instead, it finds diffusion theories to provide more appropriate explanatory frameworks. The analysis reveals two factors as central determinants of variable institutional outcomes: (1) support for the pro-government party and (2) European influences. The variable nature and scope of diffusion hierarchical in the case of the pro-government party, and loosely networked in the case of European-influenced actors creates pressures for contrasting institutional choices. The findings with regard to the spatially uneven and poly-nuclear nature of institutional influences challenge prevalent approaches to authoritarianism and democratic institution-building.