Contemporary political opposition in Russia’s competitive authoritarian regime




Hemlock, Nicholas James

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Since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, the Russian political opposition has faced increasing levels of oppression by the state. As elections have become less democratic and the governing practices of Putin have become more authoritarian, Russia has come to resemble a competitive authoritarian regime type. Despite this continually shrinking political environment, opposition candidates still compete in elections and organize protests around the country. This paper provides an analysis of the Russian political opposition and assesses its electoral viability by drawing from existing research on opposition movements in competitive authoritarian regimes. Two models of opposition success, a state/party-based model and an opposition-based model, are applied to the Russian state, party of power, and Alexei Navalny’s 2018 presidential campaign. This paper finds that regardless of model used, the benchmarks for electoral success are not met by the Russian opposition as a result of historic international relations and contemporary action of Vladimir Putin and the Russian state. Additionally, this paper argues that the state/party-based model should be prioritized over the opposition-based model as a more comprehensive model for accurately explaining the political environment and characteristics of opposition movements in competitive authoritarian regimes


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