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

Karandashova S.A.,

Master of Political Science, skarandashova@gmail.com

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.06.06
ID of the Article: 5328

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.) . DOI: https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2017.06.06

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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.

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Content No 6, 2017

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