From Russia with Cleavages. A Study in Party System and Voting Behaviour in Post-Communist Russia
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Introduction: On December 12th 1993 the Russians were about to elect their new national assembly: The State Duma. Nearly 106 million registered voters were allowed to participate in the election. This was the first election contested by several political parties since the early experiences in the beginning of the 20th century. Since then Russia has been through three presidential elections and three parliamentary elections as well as local parliamentary elections. According to many observers the transition is still going on and not completed (See for instance Rose and Munroe 2002, Herspring (Ed) 2005 and Sakwa 2002). Democracy is not yet “the only game in town”. Others claim that Russia has made serious steps towards a democratic society and that the elections have proven to be fair. The question to be asked is: what kind of electoral pattern has emerged? Can we talk about some kind of stable relationship between party preference and demographic attributes and opinions? In other words are the parties represented in the Duma a manifestation of latent cleavages in the Russian society? The question of cleavage is what this thesis intends to explore. We will try to uncover the Russian society, by trying to find cleavages in it, and to examine how these are manifested in the political spheres with specific attention to political parties. There are several ways to approach a problem like this. What we intend to do is to find out what characterises the voters of the respective parties represented in the Russian State Duma. By using surveys we shall be able to track down demographical, geographical as well as attitudinal characteristics. We can roughly say that there are three issues to be taken into considerations in this thesis: I. What kind of latent cleavages exist in the post communist Russian society? II. What kind of latent cleavages have managed to manifest themselves as political parties? III. Can this manifestation lead to a stabilised democracy in Russia?
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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