A sovereign nation or souvenir people?

Last week we had our ElMaRB and New Perspectives on Russia and Eurasia seminar this study year – Stanislav Shkel, Academy of Finland Visiting Fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute, Professor of Political Science at the Higher School of Economics – St. Petersburg gave a talk ‘A Sovereign Nation or Souvenir People: Volatility of Electoral Behavior of Titular Ethnic Groups in Russian Regions’.
Stanislav presented the research he is working on now, the goal of which is to establish the role of ethnicity on electoral support in Russian ethnic republics:

Among the regions of Russia, many ethnic republics are distinguished by a higher level of electoral mobilization and political loyalty. However, in some of them recently, at the level of official statistics, a decrease in electoral support for incumbents from the titular ethnic groups has been recorded. Why is the stability of the political behavior of voters maintained in a number of ethnic republics, while in others there is volatility of this indicator? Why do a number of ethnic republics consistently reproduce an electoral super-majority for incumbents, while others do not differ in this indicator from most Russian regions? To answer these questions, the study uses both quantitative data from official statistics and original qualitative data collected by focus groups in five Russian republics: Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Komi, Chuvashia, and Yakutia. The analysis of the collected data made it possible to identify the main factors that determine the variation in the electoral behavior of titular ethnic groups after the 2017 language reform. In particular, it is shown that the structure of regional elites is a key factor in electoral volatility. Its transformation from monolithic to fragmented leads to an increase in the activity of independent national organizations, which undermine the monopoly of the head of the region on framing national problems and controlling the electorate. The economic factor in the form of the level of industrial development determines the difference between the regions in terms of the reproduction of the electoral super-majority. Republics with a monolithic elite and a developed industrial sector are able to maintain the stability of electoral behavior, providing an electoral supermajority. While in the republics with a monolithic elite structure in the absence of a developed industrial sector, only stability can be maintained without the reproduction of an electoral super-majority for incumbents.

If you missed the seminar, you can watch the recording below:

Workshop 2021: less than three months to go

Summer vacation is over for the majority of Finnish residents, and we are also back to work. Today we are happy to present you our last keynote speaker, Regina Smyth.

Regina Smyth is a Professor of Political Science at Indiana University.  Her primary research interest is in the dynamics of state-society relations in transitional and electoral authoritarian regimes. She has also has written extensively on political development in the Russian Federation, including her recent book Elections, Protest, and Authoritarian Regime Stability: Russia 2008–2020 (Cambridge University Press, 2020). At the workshop, Professor Smyth will give a talk “Electoral Manipulation, Information, and the Path to Post-election Protest”:

Empirical studies of the effect of electoral competition on post-election protest often reveal relationships between state manipulation, institutional constraints, and outcomes on protest events. In this paper, I return to a formal model developed in my recent book that conceptualizes post-election protest as a product of the interaction between the state and the opposition that shapes voters’ electoral behavior and perceptions of electoral fairness. This approach underscores the role of opposition forces even in periods when they are under-institutionalized or banned from formal politics. I explain these individual-level decisions using individual cross-national data combined with national-level data on institutions, economic conditions, and electoral malpractice and opposition actions. In the second stage of the analysis, I test the effect of these different outcomes on the likelihood of protest. Signals from aggregate outcomes (turnout, vote switching, support for state party, and attitudes about elections) describe different states of the world and identify different mechanism that might spark post-election protest. Yet, these distinctions are rarely examined in a comparative framework. When the state allows opposition parties to run, the most likely path to protest is an electoral revolution, or action rooted in campaign mobilization and opposition coalition. In contrast, when the state ban opposition parties and candidates protest emerges from mechanisms of coordination that are more dependent on clear signals about the electorates’ preferences that kick-off an information cascade that quickly escalates protest actions.

Professor Smyth joins the other five keynote speakers, who will be all giving their lectures during the workshop on 25-26th of October, in addition to acting as discussants during the workshop panel sessions. The preliminary programme can be found on the designated page.

More information on the workshop will be coming during the next weeks, so stay tuned!