Russian Electoral Engineering from Perestroika to Putin
The article examines electoral politics over the last 35 years in the Russian Federation, since the end of the Soviet Union to the present day. It traces the party and electoral system through several phases of development, from hyper-pluralism in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse to the electoral authoritarianism of the late Putin period. A particular focus is on the ‘toolkit’ of measures used to constrict competition and ensure favourable electoral outcomes for the Kremlin and its associates, and on public confidence (or the lack thereof) in the legitimacy of the electoral process. Whilst we can over-romanticise the pluralism of the late 1980s and 1990s, there is an inherent danger for the Kremlin in relying on extracting ever greater gains from an ever-narrower base of support, at the expense of systemic renewal. In the long-term, this may presage another epochal shift in the Russian political system.