Governing Authoritarian Elections: The Case of Russia

The new year has started and we continue to publish the recordings of keynote lectures given at our International Workshop. Today we are happy to share the excellent talk that Vladimir Gel’man, Professor of Russian Politics at Aleksanteri Institute and Professor at the European University at St.Petersburg, gave on the 26th of October. In the lecture titled ‘Governing Authoritarian Elections: The Case of Russia’, Professor Gel’man talked about

The mechanisms of electoral governance under authoritarianism aimed at preservation of political monopoly under the guise of multi-party and multi-candidate contest. However, the very framework of legal regulations and their implementation relied upon numerous political and institutional devices, carefully chosen and arranged on the basis of “menu of manipulations”, typical for some electoral authoritarian regimes. Under such conditions, regimes employs the combination of high barriers, vague norms, biased enforcement of rules, and top-down mechanisms of control. Russia demonstrated the evolution of mechanisms of electoral governance towards near-elimination of very possibilities for unwanted electoral results. Still, these mechanisms are imperfect, as they perform at the expense of legitimacy of elections and not always prevents undesired outcomes. This is why authoritarian elections is a risky game, vulnerable to disequilibrium, observed in the wake of post-election protests in 2011-2012. Based on this perspective, I will discuss the experience of elections in Russia since the Soviet collapse until the State Duma elections of 2021.


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