From competition to monopoly : establishing party dominance in post-communist Russia
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What explains dominant party emergence and strength and opposition party weakness in Russia? Important structural underpinnings of party dominance, namely a weak party system, were present in Russia even in the 1990s, but it was not until the 2000s that a genuine dominant party emerged, despite Yeltsin‘s attempts to fashion a successful party of power of his own prior to United Russia. I focus on a weak party system as a factor contributing to dominant party emergence, using extensive empirical analyses drawn from original fine-grained data from the case of Russia. I contend that a combination of contingent factors, namely leadership by an individual with political clout, favorable economic developments that allow for patronage politics, and a security situation that allows for centralization of power, as well as decisive structural factors, specifically electoral-geographic conditions ripe for machine politics in the countryside and areas with dense populations of ethnic minorities, have buttressed the dominant party and frozen out the opposition in Russia. My dissertation leverages new dataset that combines fine-grained, county- and region-level data, including county-level election results from five Russian parliamentary elections—1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011—and county-level census data on sociodemographic indicators, as well as data on regional contextual characteristics, such as gross regional product and resource dependence, to examine patterns of electoral support for various parties.